Business groups put weight behind Rauner

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Rauner spoke with business leaders at Addison-based SWD Inc. Tuesday. | Adam Thorp/Sun-Times

Organized business interests in Illinois showed their strong support for Governor Bruce Rauner with a string of endorsements Tuesday.

Four large business lobbying groups in Illinois – the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Chamber of Commerce, the Manufacturers’ Association, and the Illinois chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business – lined up behind Rauner.

“The four largest groups of job creators in Illinois – they’re all with us, because I’m with them,” Rauner said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to line operator Kevin Martin during his tour of the SWD plant in Addison. | Adam Thorp/Sun-Times

Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to line operator Kevin Martin during his tour of the SWD plant in Addison. | Adam Thorp/Sun-Times

All these groups endorsed Rauner in his 2014 run for governor. This time around, they praised him for his business-friendly agenda record and focused on his opponent – who Rauner called a “Mercedes Marxist” – and his proposals for a $15 an hour minimum wage and a graduated income tax.

“If you’re for a $15 minimum wage, you know you’re killing small business jobs. I believe that J.B. Pritzker knows that. Yet he has bought into this Bernie Sanders state of mind in the democratic party that says, ‘this is how you get votes,’ ” Chamber president Todd Maisch said.

A Pritzker campaign statement issued late Tuesday cast doubt on Rauner’s record by pointing to the harm caused to businesses by budget crises and gridlock over the last four years.

Asked about $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods imposed Monday, Rauner praised President Trump for working to end “unfair trade deals” but cautioned against “tariff wars.”

“Tariff wars can be devastating for everybody,” Rauner said. “We have to be very careful. I’ve traveled to the White House three times to talk about the issue of not getting into big tariff wars.”

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The endorsement event was hosted by SWD Inc., an Addison-based manufacturer whose customers have seen “extraordinarily higher prices” for steel due to Trump-imposed tariffs, SWD president Rick Delawder said.

Rauner responded to a press question after the event about the recently surfaced allegation of attempted rape against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Rauner had endorsed his nomination when it was announced in July.

“Those allegations are very serious. They deserve to be investigated, and if they are determined to be founded I believe they would disqualify him,” Rauner said.

Rauner and Pritzker will meet on the debate stage for the first time Thursday at 6 p.m. on NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago. Answering questions after the event, Rauner rejected the idea that he needed the debate to reverse flagging poll numbers but said it would be “very important”.

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