If there are signs of fund-raising troubles in Kirk Dillard’s campaign for governor, he doesn’t see them. Or, at least he isn’t going to admit it. Lori Montana, a well-respected, GOP fund-raiser and former Illinois Lottery Director whom Dillard brought onto his campaign with much fanfare, has signaled she’s on her way out, several sources with knowledge of the decision told the Sun-Times.
Sources with knowledge of the decision said Montana informed Dillard’s campaign about two weeks ago of her plans to part ways.
“Lori is a volunteer. She did leave the campaign. She’s going to tie up loose ends,” a source close to the Dillard campaign told the Sun-Times on Monday. “She is not being paid.”
Dillard, a state senator from Hinsdale, is in a four-way race for the GOP nomination. When asked about Montana’s status on Monday, Dillard first responded by saying he had a meeting with her in 10 minutes, so he hoped she wasn’t going anywhere.
“She’s still on board with me. No, Lori still works for me,” Dillard told the Sun-Times. “Lori Montana is still helping me raise money – it must be people’s wishful thinking.”
When asked if Montana was still on contract with his campaign, Dillard backed off a bit. “I believe she is still contractually with me, but ask my campaign,” Dillard said. “I don’t write the checks.”
Rumors have been swirling over why Montana was parting ways with Dillard, but Dillard wasn’t even admitting that she was on her way out. One source indicated there was general frustration by Dillard’s reluctance to make the number of fund-raising calls needed to survive in a four-way gubernatorial primary. Dillard on Monday spoke about the strengths of his campaign, including citing a recent poll that showed his gaining numbers in the suburbs. He also said he was proud that he had favorable ratings among women – something his wealthy opponent Bruce Rauner, was lacking.
Dillard’s weakness is definitely raising money. At the close of the last quarter, Dillard reported $313,372 in overall contributions between his two political funds. He spent a combined $251,415 and had the least amount of any of the major candidates for governor left in the bank: $205,722.
“It would certainly indicate that things weren’t perfect,” a different GOP source said of Montana’s decision. “But they do have a 25-year friendship and I think it’s desirable for them to maintain that. She’s definitely ‘volunteering.’ There’s a transition period that may take her to the middle of December.”
On another note with Dillard: Word was also spreading that Dillard may not back a pension compromise deal that’s scheduled to be voted on Dec. 3. Dillard strongly denied that, saying he’s voted twice in favor of pension reform.
“I always supported pension reform. I want to see what the final bill is — but I can’t imagine I wouldn’t be (in support). Pension reform is not an easy vote — it’s not a matter of being easy, it’s a matter of being fiscally prudent for the taxpayers and retirees.” Dillard hedged some. “I’ve got to see what’s in the final package. I can’t imagine I would change my position but it depends on what’s in the final deal,” he said.
Asked to explain what had to be in the bill to get his support — or what couldn’t be in there — Dillard said: “It has to actuarially work, the numbers have to work. It has to be a big enough solution that it works. I just want to make sure maybe some day the state gets its credit-rating back.”