SPRINGFIELD — Former Chicago Bears great Mike Ditka endorsed Bruce Rauner during a pair of commercials during Sunday’s Chicago Bears game, butthe Winnetka Republican won’t get Ditka’s vote this fall.
That’s because Ditka isn’t registered to vote in Illinois.
Ditka and his wife are both currently signed up to vote in Collier County, Florida, where the couple owns a home in Naples.
Even though they have a condominium here and Ditka has his restaurant, neither has been registered to vote in Illinois since at least 2000, which is when they both registered in Florida, electionrecords from Collier County, Florida, show.
But that doesn’t mean Ditka believes he isn’t qualified to opine on Illinois’ tightening 2014 governor’s race to the legions of Bears faithful who tuned in to a pair of commercials Sunday during the team’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.
“I think he’s a better person for the state of Illinois and people of Illinois than Quinn. Period. That’s it,” Ditka said in a phone interview Monday with Early & Often, the Chicago Sun-Times political portal. “It’s about choices in life. This is my choice. I would choose to vote for [Rauner] if I was living in Illinois. But I don’t.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m qualified or not. What’s ‘qualification’? Is Quinn qualified? I don’t know,” Ditka said. “The other man ran a business, very successful. He made a lot of money, paid a lot of people, helped a lot of people. What’s Quinn’s qualifications? Who’s qualified for what?
“You qualified to interview me? I think so,” he continued. “It’s not too complicated. It’s only common sense.”
Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf told Early & Often that Ditka’s voting credentials shouldn’t be an issue now since they weren’t four years ago – when Ditka endorsed Quinn over Republican Bill Brady and appeared in an ad for the Democratic governor.
“Pat Quinn certainly thought he was qualified in 2010,” Schrimpf said.
Quinn’s campaign publicly sidestepped slamming the revered former Bears coach for not being registered to vote in Illinois and endorsing Rauner.
“Only a billionaire with a $140,000 wine club membership could afford to run such expensive ads during the Bears game,” Quinn campaign spokeswoman Izabela Miltko said in a statement.
“Not to mention, if Mr. Rauner is such a Bears fan, why’s he a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers?” she said.