GOP gubernatorial primary candidates on Thursday took issue with multimillionaire Bruce Rauner’s declaration that his fund-raising prowess — including $4 million last quarter — makes him the only one in the field who could go “toe-to-toe with Pat Quinn.”
Rauner made the statement as he announced the $4 million in the fourth quarter — with $1 million coming from his personal fortune after his self-funding lifted the mandated caps on state campaigns.
Final campaign reports haven’t been filed, but the number dwarfed his competitors’ fourth-quarter fund-raising. In the 2010 general election vs. Quinn, the Republican Governors Association infused GOP nominee Bill Brady’s campaign with $8 million. Brady, a state senator, lost by about 32,000 votes.
“Mr. Rauner’s finally come clean and admits that his major qualification to be the GOP nominee for governor is that he can buy the election,” said competitor state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale. “Unlike my running mate, who provides geographic balance, being from Downstate Illinois, the Rauner ticket is all [in the] Chicago area. I believe geographic balance is crucial to the Republicans chances against Paul Vallas and Pat Quinn.”
Dillard has struggled to put together his fundraising, and his onetime loyalist, Ron Gidwitz, gravitated to Rauner’s campaign last year. Dillard said he didn’t know what his campaign would report in the fourth quarter. A campaign representative said they were still tallying the numbers but noted a November Public Policy Poll that showed a dead heat in a Dillard-Quinn general election.
The campaign for Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, another primary contender, said Thursday it was poised to report taking in $400,000 in the fourth quarter. “It’s mostly grass roots right now,” spokesman Brian Sterling said. “Dan’s already been elected statewide, and we’ve seen polling that shows Rutherford can actually beat Quinn.”
Brady is also running in the gubernatorial primary and he too has benefitted from name recognition. However, Rauner is sinking much of his money into advertising that he’s betting will put him over the top in the March primary.