Gov. Bruce Rauner wasted his time riding his Harley to President Donald Trump’s rally in southern Illinois last weekend.
That’s the opinion of state Rep. Jeanne Ives, the conservative firebrand who gave the embattled governor a run for his money in the March primary.
“I don’t see that he got anything out of it,” Ives said of Rauner’s weekend road trip during a pre-election show at the Sun-Times on Monday.
Rauner last week said he hoped “to be able to join the president when he’s here.”
Trump visited Murphysboro on Saturday to help bolster U.S. Rep. Mike Bost’s chances in the midterm election, as well as Republicans in other close races.
Rauner’s campaign provided limited information about a potential meeting, or of Rauner’s eventual appearance at the rally. On Saturday morning, the campaign said he’d be at the event. The governor, clad in a trademark motorcycle vest full of patches, rode his Harley to the rally, and was photographed in the crowd. But the two never met, and the president didn’t mention Rauner — who is considered one of the most vulnerable Republican governors in the country — in his address.
Rauner’s campaign on Monday said the governor didn’t meet with Trump because the president arrived late to the rally.
Rauner’s appearance was intended to help boost Downstate Republicans in contested legislative races — and it didn’t hurt to be seen at the event as he tries to regain the support of the state’s most conservative voters.
But Ives, R-Wheaton, said the governor would have been “better off doing his own thing separate from the Trump event.”
“Quite frankly. He went down there. He would have been better of doing his own thing, separate from the Trump event because he was basically not even recognized at the Trump event,” Ives said. “So I think it hurts him more than it helps him.”
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Ives said she plans to vote for Rauner but is not planning to tell her supporters to do likewise.
Ives, R-Wheaton, won more than 35 counties in the state in the primary, losing to Rauner by just 4 percentage points. She’s been asked repeatedly whether she’ll endorse the governor.
“I’ve been very upfront about the fact that I’m a Republican. I will vote for Bruce Rauner. But I am not going to wholesale endorse or stand on the stage with him,” Ives said.
Asked what her supporters should do, Ives said her voters are “savvy enough to make the decision as to whether or not they think their pocketbook is better served with an administration with Bruce Rauner or an administration with J.B. Pritzker.”
And she urged her conservative supporters not to vote for Pritzker or third-party candidate state Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview. McCann is pro-life, just as Ives is. But Ives — and Rauner — have questioned McCann’s support by the Operating Engineers Union Local 150, which also endorsed Pritzker.
“Here’s what I don’t want them to do. I don’t want them to vote for J.B. Pritzker. I don’t want them to vote for Sam McCann, who is J.B. Pritzker’s associate in this race,” Ives said.
She said she’s instead focusing campaigning efforts on legislative races.
“But what I’m really focused on is I don’t want my voters to vote for any Democrat state reps.”
Ives said Democrats “control everything” and Illinois House Speaker Madigan has “decimated the state.”
McCann shrugged off the criticism, accusing Ives of putting “her own self-dealing political aspirations” ahead of what’s best for the state.
“History will record the fact that Jeanne Ives is voting for Rauner and she is recommending to the People of Illinois not to vote for the only ProLife candidate on the ballot,” McCann said in a text message to the Sun-Times.
“I am the only candidate for governor who will sign a bill to repeal HB40. And she doesn’t want people to vote for me. She needs to stop putting her party and her own self-dealing political aspirations first and put the People and the well-being of our state first.”