SPRINGFIELD — Private equity investor Bruce Rauner is maintaining a strong lead over his three Republican rivals for governor with state Sen. Kirk Dillard now positioned as the No. 2 contender, a new poll found Tuesday.
The polling firm, We Ask America, an independent subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, had Rauner with nearly 36 percent among those surveyed with Dillard, R-Hinsdale, at 17 percent.
State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, registered 13 percent while state Treasurer Dan Rutherford trailed the pack with 7 percent.
Those findings came from an automated poll of 1,178 likely Republican voters taken on Tuesday night. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The results appear to show little impact from a union-driven ad campaign that has hit Rauner for his ownership of nursing homes in Florida, where elderly women died. In three cases, their estates sued Rauner’s one-time investment company and obtained judgments worth a combined $1.4 billion but haven’t been able to collect as their cases have faced legal setbacks.
The polling also measures the precipitous fall by Rutherford, following a sex harassment lawsuit from a former treasurer’s office employee, who also alleged that workers were forced to do political work — both allegations that Rutherford has denied.
And Dillard’s surge into second place comes after he got the endorsement of the Illinois Education Association and Wednesday will announce backing from the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, groups that carry a combined reach of as many as 60,000 current and retired teachers.
In Tuesday night’s survey, Rauner led in all demographic groups and geographic regions.
Among women, Rauner had 29 percent, compared to 15 percent for Dillard and 14 percent for Brady. Rutherford carried just 8 percent.
Among men, Rauner’s standing jumped, registering support from 42 percent of male respondents. Dillard had support from 20 percent of men, Brady had 11 percent, and Rutherford had 7 percent, the poll found.
Geographically, Rauner’s has run the table on his rivals.
In suburban Cook, he has 45-percent support compared to 17 percent for Dillard, 10 percent for Brady and a minuscule 2 percent for Rutherford.
In the collar counties, the results were similar with Rauner at 43 percent, Dillard at 15 percent, Brady at 9 percent and Rutherford at 5 percent.
In Chicago, Rauner got 36 percent support, Brady 15 percent, Dillard 10 percent and Rutherford 8 percent.
And downstate, the margins were much closer with Rauner at 28 percent, Dillard 19 percent, Brady 16 percent and Rutherford 11 percent.