Tom Kacich: GOP upset with Rauner, unlikely to replace him

Tom Kacich: GOP upset with Rauner, unlikely to replace him

The next 13 months of Illinois politics should be interesting. Republicans now have a man at the top of their 2018 ticket who many of them feel betrayed by, some want off the ticket and others say has been politically weakened.

Sort of the way it was for Illinois Democrats and their gubernatorial nominee in 2014.

Except that Republican Bruce Rauner has a lot more money to throw around to candidates than Democrat Pat Quinn ever dreamed of.

So Rauner — who had $67 million in his Citizens for Rauner campaign fund on June 30 — is probably safe. But that doesn't mean his GOP colleagues are happy with him.

Rauner angered many Republicans last week when he signed House Bill 40, which allowed for Medicaid and state health insurance coverage for abortions.

"The governor told the House Republicans that he was going to veto this bill, and he did not," Rep. Bill Mitchell of Forsyth said. "The governor is going to have tremendous trust problems with our caucus.

"He said rightly that with this budget we need to cut more. And now he spends taxpayer dollars on abortions."

"I'm still trying to make sense of it, and there's nothing to make sense of," Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet said. "Look, I'm pro-life, but it's also about the fact that we're broke. And if we're not going to be spending money on things, let's not be spending money on things. There are a whole lot of other things out there that could probably use some help."

Rep. Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, who Rauner campaigned for and gave thousands in campaign contributions, said he was "disappointed" by Rauner's decision.

"He had committed to us to veto the bill," Halbrook said. "This is a pretty big deal. We have a pretty conservative district. The calls, the emails, whatever kind of communication, there have not been many, but there have been a few, and they're outraged."

But the level of outrage only goes so far. A couple of conservative lawmakers, Sen. Kyle McCarter of Lebanon ("He has disgraced the party and the citizens of Illinois. In my opinion, he should not run for re-election.") and Rep. Jeannie Ives of Wheaton, suggested a possible primary challenge. But there's no groundswell.

"I think that would be very difficult," Rose said of a challenge to Rauner.

"I'm not willing to make that statement," Halbrook said when asked if he'd support a contender against Rauner.

"I certainly disagreed with his decision, but the attorney general's race has always been an independent race," said Erika Harold of Urbana, the Republican candidate for attorney general who is supported by Rauner. "I can't deal in hypotheticals, but I believe the issues with which I agree with him outweigh those with which I disagree with him."

As Rep. Pater Breen, R-Lombard, put it last week, "The only unique feature left in Rauner's favor is that he writes big campaign checks. For Republicans whose elections require those contributions, I understand their reluctance to be critical of Rauner."

Davis on tax reform

Rep. Rodney Davis' professed support for the House Republicans' tax reform plan could put him in trouble with a big chunk of his constituents: the 26 percent in the 13th Congressional District who use the state and local tax deduction on their tax returns.

According to figures provided by the Government Finance Officers Association, using IRS data, more than a quarter of all taxpayers in the district use the deduction, and it is worth an average of $9,542. Statewide the figure is $12,523.

"If the SALT deduction were eliminated," the finance officers group said, "it would represent a significant tax increase on homeowners and make it much more difficult for many Americans to own their homes."

And maybe to pour a little more partisan salt into the wounds of Illinois taxpayers, hit recently with an income tax increase, Davis offered this remark in his prepared statement: "Illinois residents know all too well the impact high taxes are having on their families' ability to save and get ahead and our state's ability to compete for good-paying jobs. Our plan uses Illinois as an example of what not to do."

So it's worth noting that the Illinois tax increase was enacted to not only finally provide a budget but to start paying off billions in bills. The Republicans' tax plan could add trillions of dollars to the federal deficit, according to Senate Republicans.

Barickman/Harold

Harold, who works at the same Meyer Capel Law firm as state Sen. Jason Barickan, R-Bloomington, will be the featured speaker at this month's Barickman Family Farm Fest near Ancona.

The event is from 3 to 7 p.m. Oct. 14. Tickets are $10 per person or $25 per family. Call Suzy Brown at 815-596-9160 for more information.

Londrigan event

Former Champaign County Board members Barbara Wysocki and Susan McGrath will host a "meet and greet" event with 13th Congressional District candidate Betsy Londrigan, a Springfield Democrat, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Champaign Public Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Ammons TV spots

State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, is running $742 in TV spots on local cable television, advertising her upcoming Women Making Waves brunch and panel discussion at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Hawthorn Suites in Champaign. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at kacich@news-gazette.com.