SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White predicted November’s gubernatorial election will be one of the most “hotly contested races I’ve ever experienced,” then charged that was at least in part due to Republican Bruce Rauner trying to buy the black vote.
“I’m concerned about it. It’s one of the most hotly contested races I’ve ever experienced,” White told reporters on Wednesday while at a Democratic unity breakfast during the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.
White said he feared Rauner was attempting to buy the black vote. His remarks were in the wake of news reports that Rauner, on a campaign stop, promised to give a South Side Credit Union $1 million of his own money.
“I think they’re being encouraged to support him because he has a large warchest,” White said.
When pressed later in the day, White reiterated his worries, then took it a step further.
“He may be encouraging them to support him because of some possible promises or money they may have received. I tell people if someone asks them to support their effort, I believe that, you know, taking money is not exactly legal,” White said. “But if you have to take it, take it. But when you go to the polling place, vote right.”
Numerous recent polls have shown Rauner leading Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn either by double digits, or by smaller margins. Rauner’s campaign on Wednesday said Rauner is committed to minority communities.
“Bruce and Diana have invested time and resources into improving opportunities for people on the South and West sides of Chicago for many years,” said Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf. “That commitment didn’t change when Bruce became a candidate, and it won’t change when he’s governor either.”
White, a popular statewide Democrat who is certain to sail to a record fifth term in office, gave a spirited defense of Quinn on Wednesday, dismissing issues facing the governor after a failed anti-violence program has proven to have had serious issues.
“Pat Quinn has a good heart, and he was concerned about making a difference,” White said. “Sometimes, it goes along with that old saying: When individuals have good intentions, and others don’t fulfill their part of the bargain, sometimes some terrible things can happen.”