Rauner commits to debates as Dillard goes on attack

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner announced on Tuesday he has committed to five upcoming debates in the run-up to the March 18 GOP primary even as one of his opponents started off the New Year guns blazing.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Ill., all but accused Rauner of being a closet Democrat, declared the the venture capitalist was taking “January off,” and diminished Rauner’s bus tour as a “gimmick.”

Rauner made the announcement as he launched a bus tour this week — the schedule altered because of the weather — that included several Downstate stops. He also made it amid some criticism that he had been inaccessible to the media.

Rauner, himself a multi-millionaire, is far out-raising his opponents in the March 18 GOP primary. His own contributions to his campaign topped $1 million, removing the typically-imposed limits to what donors can give to campaign.

Dillard and his running mate Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, announced in a release the campaign had 19 debates and forums scheduled then said: “Rauner takes January off.”

Dillard is among three candidates competing against Rauner for the GOP nod.

“Bruce Rauner made over $1 million a week last year, and is apparently so close to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel they vacation together. That’s not someone who understands struggling downstate families,” Dillard said. The campaign also questioned donations Rauner has made to Democrats.

Rauner’s campaign has accused his three running mates of being too entrenched in Springfield politics and has launched a TV campaign to “Shake up Springfield.”

“Bruce will let the career politicians and government union bosses sling the mud while he keeps focused on letting voters know about his ideas for more jobs, lower taxes and spending, better schools and term limits. Folks throughout the state love Bruce’s vision to bring back Illinois.”

Here’s the list of dates where Rauner will attend:

Sponsor: Illinois Manufacturers’ Association

Proposed Date: February 4

Sponsor: Citizens Club of Springfield

Proposed Date: February 18

Sponsor: League of Women Voters, ABC 7, Univision

Proposed Date: February 27

Sponsor: NBC 5, University of Chicago

Proposed Date: March 4

Sponsor: WTTW

Proposed Date: March 13

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