Tom Kacich: Rauner primary threat 'awkward' for some

Tom Kacich: Rauner primary threat 'awkward' for some

Don't expect a lot of her Republican colleagues to support state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, in her challenge to Gov. Bruce Rauner, says Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth.

"I doubt she'll get many. She has an acerbic personality," Mitchell said. "Jeannie is a very intelligent person, and she has a lot going for her, but at the same time she represents the worst, in terms of ideologues, of both right and left. It's like if you have a contrary point of view, you're not only wrong, but you're a bad person.

"On some points I agree with her, of course. But she's just an acerbic personality."

Ives said she is circulating petitions to take on Rauner in the GOP primary next March.

Mitchell said he told Rauner that he will support him for re-election.

"I have differences with him too," Mitchell noted. "The worst thing you can say about the governor is that we went 732 days without a budget. That was unconscionable in my opinion."

State Rep. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, said he also will back Rauner for a second term although he remains upset with the governor for signing HB 40 that expands taxpayer funding of abortions in Illinois.

A number of House Republicans — including Mitchell, Bennett and Rep. Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville — are co-sponsors, along with Ives, of HB 4114 which would provide that neither the state "nor any of its subdivisions" could pay for an abortion except in limited circumstances.

"I did not like what the governor did with (HB 40). I felt like I had been punched in the stomach," Bennett said. "And I talked to him for about 15 minutes, and I told him I didn't agree with what he did."

Bennett said it's "awkward" to have a Republican colleague challenge Rauner.

"But he's our leader, and we can't lose sight of the overall big picture. Who has the best chance of taking on the Democratic candidate for governor and winning? And who has the best chance of getting us a fairer map when redistricting comes up?" Bennett said. "The governor has a good plan for turning the state around and for leading us. I think Jeannie's got a way to go."

But Rep. Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, whom Rauner campaigned for two years ago in a Republican primary election, said he's undecided in a Ives-Rauner showdown.

"I like Jeannie. She's my rowmate (on the House floor), and we'll see if she can get some signatures and how it shakes out and make a decision in 30 days," Halbrook said.

For now, he said, he's not backing either of them.

"I'm uncommitted on both," he said.

Londrigan endorsed

Betsy Londrigan, one of four Democratic candidates for the 13th Congressional District seat now held by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, got a boost with the announcement today that she's been endorsed by Emily's List, a political action committee organized to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates.

Londrigan is the only woman in the 13th District race.

"Betsy Dirksen Londrigan is a self-employed businesswoman and community leader who knows the stakes that central Illinois families face. Due to a life-threatening health care crisis in her own family, Betsy clearly understands the meaning of good, affordable medical care and will be a passionate voice in the fight for health care," said the president of Emily's List, Stephanie Schriock.

Londrigan's son, Jack, was 12 years old when he was put in a medically induced coma after contracting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He eventually recovered and is now a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"When Congressman Rodney Davis fell in line behind Paul Ryan in support of the disastrous Republican health care bill earlier this year, Betsy knew that central Illinois needed a leader who will fight entrenched special interests and isn't afraid to stand up to party leaders," Schriock said. "At a time when Congressman Davis is failing Illinois families, Betsy wants to make change and fix the broken system — and Emily's List is proud to stand with her."

Londrigan is one of 14 women running for Congress so far who have been endorsed by Emily's List. With the endorsement she'll get some campaign support, but most importantly she'll get access to the group's national list of donors and eventually could get financial support from the PAC.

Other Democrats running in the 13th District with the hope of challenging Davis next November include Jonathan Ebel of Urbana, Dr. David Gill of Bloomington and Erik Jones of Edwardsville.

Republican appointment(s)

Mark Ballard, chairman of the Champaign County Republican Party, says that planning is underway to fill potentially two countywide elected positions now held by Republicans.

Republican precinct committeemen — approximately 60 of whom are elected and therefore have a vote — will meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Brookens Administrative Center to interview candidates for county treasurer. The current treasurer, Dan Welch, is retiring on Dec. 31.

The committeemen will vote that night and forward their recommendation to the county board for action at the November meeting.

So far, Ballard said, only County Auditor John Farney has expressed interest in becoming treasurer.

If Farney becomes treasurer, the process would repeat itself on Dec. 6 to appoint a new auditor. There may be a few Republican contenders for appointment as auditor.

Democratic forum

Four Democratic candidates for governor will appear at a forum Monday night in Urbana that is sponsored by the Illinois Democrats, but front-runner J.B. Pritzker isn't among them.

"J.B. has enjoyed the chance to participate in over 25 forums across the state since entering the race. Unfortunately, a conflict will prevent him from taking part in Monday's forum, but J.B. looks forward to the many more forums and meetings that will take place between now and Election Day," said Galia Slayen, Pritzker's communications director.

State Sen. Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy, Bob Daiber and Tio Hardiman will participate in the event at 6 p.m. Monday at Room 112 Gregory Hall on the University of Illinois campus.

Free tickets are available through a link on the Illini Democrats Facebook page.

Cunningham contribution

Cindy Cunningham of Royal, the only Democratic candidate so far for the 104th Illinois House seat, Monday reported a $2,000 campaign contribution from New Age Elder Care of Chicago. It's the biggest campaign donation for Cunningham, who earlier this month reported having $887 in her treasury.

Cunningham is a former employee of the Champaign County Nursing Home who owns a firm that assists businesses providing home- and community-based services for seniors.

Cunningham likely will oppose Republican Michael Marron of rural Fithian a year from now in the general election. Marron reported $28,821 in his campaign fund on Sept. 30.

Ammons organization

Urbana Democrat Aaron Ammons, who is seeking his party's nomination for Champaign County clerk, has filed a statement of organization showing that his wife, state Rep. Carol Ammons, is chair of his campaign fund and that he has $1,200 in his campaign fund.

Two Republicans are vying for county clerk, Matt Grandone of Urbana who had $35,243 on Sept. 30, and Jon Rector of rural Champaign, who had $1,984 on that date.

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

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