Illinois Republicans start bickering in potentially crowded field for governor

January 25, 2013

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Republican primary voters might see a long list of candidates next year for Illinois governor.

Several potential candidates are already explaining why they would be the ideal candidate. But ask each one what the ideal GOP candidate looks like, and you’re likely to get a different answer from each.

“The perfect template of a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor needs to be a suburbanite with strong downstate roots,” said Kirk Dillard, a state senator who represents parts of Chicago’s Western suburbs in Springfield.

“I think some people that are looking at running again are going to have trouble getting that necessary support to run,” said U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.

The Peoria Republican held a 20-minute news conference with Chicago reporters Thursday about the race for governor.

“I see the Republican primary voter as going to be looking at who has the best shot at winning the governor’s office,” said Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

State Sen. Bill Brady and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner are also considered potential candidates.

But despite the high level of interest, the chairman of the Illinois GOP, Pat Brady, said he wants to avoid a crowded primary. He said it’s premature to talk about the possibility of the party slating a candidate before the primary. But that process worked out for Wisconsin Republicans in the election of Scott Walker as governor.

“I don’t think it’s out of the conversation like it was four years ago,” Pat Brady said, who’s not related to Sen. Bill Brady.

Pat Brady said the Republican nominee has to perform better north of I-80 around Chicago than in 2010, when Democrat Pat Quinn won election.

Meanwhile, Rep. Schock had some harsh words for his fellow Republicans who are also interested in becoming governor.

Schock criticized both Democrats and Republicans who, like him, have expressed an interest in running but haven’t yet announced.

“As a Republican in this state, I’ve watched cycle after cycle a lot of the same horses trot out on the track that have proven nothing more than they can lose an election,” he said.

Schock later said he was referring to State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, both of whom ran for governor in 2010 and lost.

In response, Dillard said the 31-year-old Schock is young and “has a bright future in politics.”

“It’s a little early for these political shenanigans and posturing like this and, you know, I think may show a little bit of immaturity,” Dillard said of Schock’s comments.

Schock has also been in an ongoing public battle with Rauner. Rauner recently told the Peoria Journal Star Schock isn’t qualified to be governor.

Schock on Thursday all but directly accused Rauner of funding ads running in his home district criticizing the representative for voting in favor of the so-called fiscal cliff bill in the House of Representatives.

“Any time someone spends the lion’s share of their time, energy and money attacking someone as opposed to talking about themselves, I think says a lot about that person,” Schock said.

The infighting among the possible gubernatorial candidates comes as some GOP committeemen have been criticizing chairman Pat Brady for supporting gay marriage.

Brady said that debate within the party will be resolved by the time the primary comes around in March of 2014.

“It’s still early and we’ll see what happens, but we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure we have a good, strong, well-funded, well-supported candidate,” Brady said.

On the Democratic side, incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn has said he wants to keep his job. Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently told ABC 7 Chicago she's interested in the job. And former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley has also said he's considering challenging Quinn in a Democratic primary.