Win with Flynn? GOP governor hopeful Rabine touts support of Trump’s pardoned ex-national security adviser

The endorsement comes less than two weeks after Michael Flynn appeared before the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, during which the former national security adviser exercised his Fifth Amendment right.

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Republican candidate for governor Gary Rabine, left; Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, right.

Republican candidate for governor Gary Rabine, left; Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, right.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file; Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP file

SPRINGFIELD — Former national security adviser Michael Flynn — who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI but later was pardoned by then President Donald Trump — waded into Illinois politics on Tuesday, endorsing Gary Rabine for governor over six other Republicans vying for the party’s nomination.

“Gary is a self-made business success story. A man of principle, integrity and passion for public service. He believes that the power of government is derived from the citizens and that individual freedoms are sacrosanct,” Flynn said in a statement released by Rabine’s campaign.

“Gary’s contributions to the conservative movement are unequaled by any other candidate this election cycle — he does not just talk conservative, he takes action.”

The Bull Valley businessman said he was “honored” by the endorsement from the “decorated war hero and patriot.”

“General Flynn recognizes that we need to elect a principled, life-long conservative who has the experience to fix the mess in Illinois created by Mike Madigan and JB Pritzker,” Rabine said in a statement.

Rabine’s four-paragraph press release made no mention of the retired general’s 2017 guilty plea to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian diplomat during the 2016 presidential campaign or Trump’s full pardon of Flynn in the final days of the Republican president’s administration.

President Donald Trump, left, attends an Oval Office meeting in 2017 with, from second from left, then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump is on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Donald Trump, left, attends an Oval Office meeting in 2017 with, from second from left, then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump is on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Andrew Harnik/AP file

The endorsement comes less than two weeks after Flynn appeared before the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, during which the former Trump adviser exercised his Fifth Amendment right to refrain from answering questions. The former U.S. Army lieutenant general had pushed to overturn the 2020 presidential election, citing baseless claims of widespread election fraud.

Democrats seized on his endorsement of Rabine as evidence of the Illinois Republican Party shifting “even further to the right.”

“Republicans’ open embrace of Donald Trump and his lackies, who have been pushing the QAnon conspiracy theory and the Big Lie about the 2020 election, show just how out of touch the Illinois GOP is with working families,” said Jake Lewis, deputy director of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

But Democrats don’t vote in GOP primaries, and Flynn has remained popular with Trump supporters, who view him as a casualty of what they argue was an unfair prosecution.

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn attends the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, last month.

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, center, attends the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, last month.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images file

So, Flynn’s support is another conservative get for Rabine, who received the endorsement of radio talk show host and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk in September.

None of the other Republicans vying in the crowded gubernatorial primary responded to the Sun-Times’ requests for comment on Flynn.

All are rallying support of their own to help them win votes in the crowded June primary.

State Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia picked up the endorsement of conservative firebrand and former state Rep. Jeanne Ives earlier this month.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has pulled endorsements from a number of big-name Republicans from across the state, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and billionaire Ken Griffin, who donated $20 million to Irvin’s campaign in February.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, left; state Sen. Darren Bailey, center; Republican venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, right.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, left; state Sen. Darren Bailey, center; Republican venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, right.

Patrick Kunzer/Daily Herald file; Facebook; Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times file

Petersburg investor Jesse Sullivan won the endorsement of former Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope earlier this month.

Also seeking the GOP nomination are former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, Hazel Crest lawyer Max Solomon and Wheaton resident Emily Johnson. Johnson is running on a slate of GOP candidates who contend the 2020 election was illegitimate.

“I don’t have to ‘campaign in Trump’s Shadow’ like the other GOP Candidates running against [Gov. J.B.] Pritzker,” Johnson on the slate’s website. “On the contrary, I will campaign with Trump and stand beside him as we fix the fraudulent election.”

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