SPRINGFIELD -- Former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar said Tuesday that he'll likely back state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale in the 2014 GOP primary for governor if Dillard runs again.
Dillard, who narrowly lost the Republican nomination in 2010, has said he's strongly considering a run, but he has not formally thrown his hat into the ring.
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"It's hard to endorse someone that hasn't announced," Edgar said. "I don't know what would keep me from supporting him again."
Edgar made the comments to reporters after a news conference where top Republicans backed a plan to allow undocumented immigrants to have drivers licenses. Among those at the news conference was state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, who defeated Dillard in 2010 by a couple hundred votes statewide.
Edgar said Brady and other top downstate Republicans eyeing the governor's mansion could face the same problems in 2014 that Dillard did in 2010. Two years ago, Dillard faced competition from other high-profile suburban Republicans who were also in the race.
Now, the biggest GOP names beside Dillard talking about the state's top job are downstaters: Brady, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria.
Those three could dilute the downstate support that delivered a primary win to Brady in 2010, Edgar said.
"He won the primary because he was the only downstater," Edgar said.
Candidacies won't be official until later in 2013 when hopefuls will have to file petitions, but Republicans and Democrats alike see 2014 as a big year on the state level.