Rauner launches re-election bid, vows to keep fighting corruption
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Vowing he’ll continue a war against “corrupt career politicians,” Gov. Bruce Rauner formally announced his re-election bid Monday morning in a video.
Rauner is the narrator of the two-minute YouTube video, dubbed “I Choose To Fight,” which features the leather-clad Republican governor on his Harley Davidson, driving through Illinois.
“Now we have a choice. We can throw in the towel, walk away and leave our future to the same corrupt career politicians, or we can fight,” Rauner says. “I choose to fight.”
In the video, Rauner — wearing a biker patch that reads “governor”— says he took on property taxes, education criminal justice and ethics during his first-term.
“We’ve won some and we’ve lost some. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy,” Rauner says while outlining goals for his re-election campaign: fighting for property tax relief, “real term limits” and “a budget that won’t bankrupt or break us.”
Rauner of course mentions the “Madigan machine,” while vowing to fight against “a corrupt culture of permanent political failure.”
In an email to supporters, Rauner’s campaign also listed a goal of fighting to “rollback the Madigan 32 percent income tax hike.” The Illinois Republican Party for months has blamed the powerful speaker on the tax hike, although Democrats have pointed out that Republicans had agreed to the number — 4.95 percent — during negotiations. Rauner, too, said he’d approve a tax hike, but with reforms attached.
Rauner’s campaign said the video will air solely on the Internet, for now. The governor is already running TV campaign ads, with the most recent ads crediting him for signing the school funding bill.
The official campaign announcement comes nearly a month after Rauner bucked ultra-conservative Republicans by signing into law a bill to expand taxpayer-funded abortions.
After signing HB40 on Sept. 28, there was speculation the Republican governor might not run. He’s considered a vulnerable incumbent Republican governor, and he’s also faced criticism this year from conservatives over his signing of a bill that protects illegal immigrants from being detained solely based on their immigration status.
The video announcement, however, squashes those doubts. And he’ll have plenty of cash in his campaign war chest to strengthen his re-election bid. Rauner’s campaign had a hefty $65.5 million cash on hand on Oct. 1, with $50 million of the $70.9 million he raised coming from his own pockets.
Rauner in April kicked off a campaign-funded, two-day tour of the state, all the while denying that he was kicking off his re-election or that the 10 stops were campaign-related.
“Are you running or are you not?” a reporter asked the governor.
“This is nothing to do with the election,” Rauner said April 11.
He declined to answer that question definitively for months, although his campaign had confirmed he was running, and nominating petitions are being circulated. The re-election bid comes on the heels of a tough budget and tax override and a rough summer in which he ousted several members of his inner circle, with others resigning in protest — followed by a series of public gaffes.
Throughout that time, he also faced constant attacks from Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates, including J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and state Sen. Daniel Biss.
Rauner faces no serious Republican challengers at this point in the March primary, though some are mulling a run, including state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton.
Ives was among the governor’s most vocal critics following the signing of the abortion bill. In an interview with a downstate radio station on Friday, Ives accused the governor of betraying his party in signing the measure. She also confirmed she’s exploring a run and doesn’t believe Rauner will be re-elected next year.