Illinois Republicans Push to Primary Governor

Illinois’ Republican Governor, Bruce Rauner (R-IL), has not had the most successful run as Governor.

He’s unpopular, but that’s to be expected in a state as blue as Illinois. No, the worst part of his time as Governor is the way that Rauner has alienated his base of support. Republican voters could stomach an unpopular Governor, so long as he was unpopular because of his conservative policies, but Rauner has governed as anything but a conservative.

Honestly, his time in office has looked remarkably similar to what a mainstream-left Democrat’s time in office might look like, which is probably at least partly to blame for why the state has done so poorly during his tenure.

In December, the conservative National Review called Rauner “The Worst Republican Governor in America.” Ouch.

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When Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois announced in October that he would seek reelection in 2018, he released a two-minute campaign video. It shows the Republican wearing blue jeans and a black leather vest as he rides his Harley-Davidson motorcycle from Chicago to Springfield, the state capital. “Four years ago,” he says in a voiceover, “I crisscrossed our state, looked people in the eye, and promised to fight business as usual.”

This boast came about a month after Cardinal Blase Cupich accused him of breaking his word and the Chicago Sun-Times put his picture on its front page, below a headline that shouted: “Benedict Rauner.” The governor’s offense was to have signed what may be America’s most radical abortion-funding law after vowing to veto it. The betrayal capped a season of defeats for conservatives, including an income-tax hike, a big bailout of Chicago’s public schools, and turning Illinois into what critics of illegal immigration are calling a “sanctuary state.”

Now Rauner, 60, confronts a problem that few would have predicted as recently as last spring: a possible Republican meltdown in the Land of Lincoln. In next year’s GOP primary, he’ll face a scrappy challenge from a credible conservative opponent. Jeanne Ives is a graduate of West Point, a mom, and a wonky state representative from Wheaton, Ill. “Somebody needs to stand up for Republicans and conservatives,” she says. “We can do a lot better than Bruce Rauner.”

This much is clear: Illinois hardly could do worse. It suffers from one of the weakest economies in the nation, with the slowest personal-income growth, low labor-force participation, and distressing levels of manufacturing-job losses. Its tax burden is among the heaviest in the country. It has the lowest credit rating of any state (just a notch above junk-bond status) and the highest level of unfunded pension liabilities (about $250 billion, according to Moody’s). Four of its last ten governors have wound up in prison. “Illinois is worth fighting for,” says Rauner in his new campaign ad — but many of its citizens have chosen to flee. The state has lost population every year since 2014.

Ives has thus far laid waste to Rauner in the early part of the primary campaign. Last week, the Chicago Tribune seemed in awe of the GOP upstart when they wrote that she “crushed” Rauner in a recent debate.

Rauner is a tough guy, a man who’s made hundreds of millions of dollars in business deals. He made his own money, took his own risks, and he ran for governor in 2014 because the state was sinking. But on Monday, judging just from his eyes and body language after debating Ives — a West Point graduate — Rauner looked like a man who’d been whipped.

He just couldn’t quite come to grips with the whipping.

And he won’t debate her again, because she crushed it and she crushed him and it wasn’t pretty.

You can watch that drubbing here:

After her big debate victory, Ives is not letting up. She recently released her first anti-Rauner ad and boy is it brilliant.

Calling Rauner “Benedict Rauner” and then detailing how he had abandoned every promise that he made in his 2014 campaign for Governor, Ives’ exposes just how far to the left Rauner has actually governed. He abandoned all 44 of his original campaign planks, caved to Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel and even gave Rahm more than he was asking for, signed major tax increases, forced Illinois taxpayers to pay for abortions, and much, much more.

Rauner doesn’t deserve the support of GOP voters in Illinois because even a leftwing Democrat wouldn’t actually govern much worse than Rauner. If Illinois is going to collapse under the weight of government pressure, let it be a Democrat who leads them there.

In 2018, Illinois Republican should support Jeanne Ives in her campaign to oust Bruce Rauner.

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