Bruce Rauner had called Friday “D-Day” for his term limits referendum.
But the decision he received left him little to fall back on but his vow to marshal his forces and take his fight to another battlefield.
Despite last-minute pleas from the Republican gubernatorial candidate, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Friday that the November ballot will not include a referendum on limiting the terms of state lawmakers.
The state’s top court ruled Friday afternoon without comment.
Earlier in the day, the Illinois State Board of Elections finalized a ballot that does not include the referendum Rauner has used as a rallying cry throughout his gubernatorial campaign.
Still having heard nothing from the state’s top court, the eight-member electoral board certified the ballot about 12:30 p.m., according to State Board of Elections Director Jane Gasperin.
“We just have five referendums to the two constitutional amendments and the three advisories,” Gasperin said. “As far as we know it’s not on the ballot unless the court tells us to put it in, unless the Supreme Court orders it. But the term limit referendum is not on.”
The court decision came a few hours later.
At a news conference prior to the court ruling, Rauner said his fight for term limits isn’t over.
“We will never give up on term limits. The next right step is for us to support and elect pro-term limits officials in Springfield,” Rauner said. “Pat Quinn has turned out to be a phony. He has not supported term limits. I will absolutely support term limits.”
Rauner said he’ll also campaign for candidates for the General Assembly who will campaign and commit to serving only eight years in office.
Rauner called Friday “D-Day,” just before the Supreme Court ruled.
“We have career politicians in Springfield who are more eager to hold onto their own power than they are to serve the people and this is the tragedy of our government,” Rauner said. “This is the fundamental root cause of many of challenges, corruption, patronage, cronyism.”
He urged Quinn to join him in his plight to get a term limits referendum on the ballot.
“Gov. Quinn has refused to join in this effort even though in the past he has said he supported term limits. Unfortunately Pat Quinn has turned out to be a phony on term limits. He no longer supports it.”
Quinn’s campaign released a statement calling the governor a “true champion for term limits, dating back to 1993,” when he ran a statewide petition drive for a citizen referendum to establish term limits. The Quinn campaign criticized Rauner’s support of career Republican politicians, including U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and House Speaker John Boehner.
“Bruce Rauner is a one trick phony on term limits,” Quinn for Illinois spokesperson Izabela Miltko said in a statement. “On one hand, he rails against career politicians, while on the other, he doesn’t hesitate to use his fortune to build up their war chests. What a hypocrite.”
Rauner said term limits are an “important positive structural force” to improve the quality of state government. He said Illinois voters would approve the initiative to limit legislators to eight years in office. To conform with an earlier Supreme Court ruling, it would have also increased the size of the Illinois House, cut the size of the Senate and heightened voting requirements to override gubernatorial vetoes.
Rauner’s measure was thrown out last month after a Cook County judge ruled that it did not pass muster. But attorneys representing Rauner appeared in Illinois Appellate Court on Aug. 14, asking for the court to overturn that ruling.
An earlier state Supreme Court ruling tossed out a different term limits proposal — brought by Quinn when he was state treasurer — ruling it went beyond making “procedural” or “structural” changes to the state Legislature.
Rauner’s team said his initiative was limited to “procedural” and “structural” changes, but a Cook County judge previously ruled “any term limits initiative appears to be outside what is permissible,” under the state constitution.