For GOP hopefuls, Labor Day is for politicking

September 2, 2013

by Alex Keefe and The Associated Press

(WBEZ/Alex Keefe)
Illinois State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, poses for a picture with a supporter before Schaumburg’s 2013 Labor Day parade.

The Republican field for the 2014 Illinois governor and lieutenant governor races began to crystalize Monday, as Tuesday marks the day that candidates can begin gathering signatures to get on the ballot for March’s primary.

Among the Republican gubernatorial hopefuls who spent their holiday politicking was Illinois State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, who greeted voters with his two frisky golden retrievers at Schaumburg’s Labor Day parade.

“It’s just a good opportunity to visit and mingle with the voters, people who care about Illinois,” Brady said before Monday’s parade stepped off. “This election’s gonna be about who can best lead our state. Clearly [Democratic Governor] Pat Quinn’s failing.”

The parade’s marching order put Brady not far from a navy blue-shirted troupe of volunteers supporting Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist seeking to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate.

“It’s about shaking up Springfield and turning it around,” said Rauner, who has sought to play up his role as a political outsider. “Taking the government in Springfield back from the corrupt, career politicians who are controlling it for their own benefit, and get it so it’s responsive to the voters again.”

Earlier in the day, Dan Rutherford, the Illinois treasurer, announced a Chicago attorney as his lieutenant governor pick.

Rutherford revealed on Twitter that his choice is Steve Kim, a 42-year-old attorney who lives in Northbrook. Kim, who has served as a Northfield township trustee, unsuccessfully challenged Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2010.

"He comes from having been on the statewide stage before," Rutherford told The Associated Press. The Chenoa Republican said his first priority was choosing someone who could succeed him if he wins. Rutherford said he would release more details Thursday at a news conference.

Rutherford became the first among the four Republicans and two Democrats seeking the state's highest office to announce his running mate.

It's the first time that candidates for governor will run with their lieutenant governor choices. The change was instituted after 2010 when it was revealed after the primary that the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor — Scott Lee Cohen — had past troubles including domestic battery charge. Cohen dropped out after pressure from Democratic leaders who feared it would hurt Quinn.

Other Republicans are expected to announce their picks soon.

Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale scheduled a statewide fly around with his pick for Tuesday. Sen. Brady has said his choice is also coming soon. The other candidates — including Rauner and Chicago Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and his challenger former White House chief of staff Bill Daley — have said they're not in a rush to make their choices public. Rutherford said he considered Kim's business experience and his background.

Kim is a managing partner at Rosenberg Kim & Jimenez, Ltd., which does international and trade law and business development law, among other areas. Kim is also Korean American. He immigrated with his family as a young boy and is a U.S. citizen.

Rutherford said Kim has the ability to reach out to Illinois' diverse residents, particularly the growing Asian population.

"We're a state where there is a very strong and vital immigrant community," Kim said, adding that his family's immigration story was one that would resonate with many groups.

Kim declined to talk specifics on where he stands on issues, like gay marriage, saying that he still formulating his opinions.

He said his focus is improving Illinois' business climate.

"I understand how to create jobs," he said. "I strongly believe the climate in Illinois is not right now best suited for jobs and economic growth. We can change that."