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Rauner quietly confirms re-election bid

Gov. Bruce Rauner at a press conference earlier this month. File Photo. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Gov. Bruce Rauner — who has spent the last year and half in a war of words with Democrats over the state’s budget crisis — on Monday quietly confirmed he is seeking re-election in 2018.

The news is not a surprise to political insiders. The venture capitalist has long said the business community urged him to run to try to turn around the state’s economy. And he hasn’t yet succeeded in securing his “Turnaround Agenda,” more than a year into his first term.

Just a day after legislators left Springfield without a budget, Rauner as the head of the state’s Republican Party donned his campaign cap, beginning a statewide tour of contested legislative districts in his push to try to oust Democrats in the November election.

The tour prompted state Senate President John Cullerton to urge the governor to “stop campaigning” and “start governing,” and the governor to simply say everyone’s in “election mode.”

But the Republican governor was less vocal about his own plans.

Rauner announced he is seeking re-election during a closed-door meeting with the Chicago Tribune, Rauner aides confirmed, while declining to provide any further information about Rauner’s quest for a second term.

Rauner has met with the Tribune Editorial Board several times during his tenure. He has never visited the Sun-Times Editorial Board — either during his election or during his term, which began in January 2015.

There are no official gubernatorial challengers as of yet, although there have been rumblings of Democratic contenders, including a name that frequently pops up — businessman Chris Kennedy — and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.