In what could be the biggest shake-up in the GOP gubernatorial primary yet, a new group poised to launch attack ads against candidate Bruce Rauner has formally filed papers to begin its work.
It’s headed by a former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and is poised to launch anti-Rauner ads, combating TV spots by Rauner, which have already immersed the airwaves.
The Republican Fund for Progress and Jobs filed its statement of organization Thursday afternoon, and former Schock Chief of Staff Steven Shearer signed on as committee chair and treasurer.
Sources with knowledge of the effort say the goal is to “educate” voters on Rauner, including through TV ads. The effort includes some involvement by unions that abhor Rauner. Sources say the ads would not advocate for a specific opponent to Rauner but steer voters to any of his three opponents — state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, and Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Expect more discussion to counter Rauner’s contention that he’s an “outsider” including more talk of Rauner’s former ties to imprisoned insider Stuart Levine — a central figure in the Rod Blagojevich investigation.
There’s bad blood between Rauner and Schock’s campaign that goes back to last year. While Schock, of Peoria, was exploring running for governor, he faced a series of attack ads, which campaign insiders privately attributed to Rauner. Rauner denied being behind the effort.
For his part, Rauner is using news of an anti-committee to ask his coffers for more money with a now oft-used mantra that it’s him against “national Democrats and government union bosses.”
Meanwhile, the mega-millionaire of Winnetka who already put $1.2 million of his own money into his campaign fund is preparing his own new launch. His campaign announced on Friday that Rauner will go on a “Shake Up Express” bus tour next week that will make 30 stops around the state. That includes Chicago.