All four GOP candidates running for governor agree that one way to fix Illinois' problems is to get a Republican in the executive mansion.
On Tuesday night, they each addressed a room full of suburban Republicans to make their case for why they have what it takes to defeat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn next year.
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"This is about winning, folks," state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale said to the crowd at DuPage County's Republican Day event in Bloomingdale. "And it's not enough just to elect a Republican governor. You've got to have a Republican governor that has a track record of being able to make a Democratic-controlled legislature from Chicago live within its means."
He added the best way to get DuPage candidates elected to the county board and to the state legislature is to have the Republican nominee for governor from DuPage.
"While I will be a governor for all of Illinois, it's time for a collar-county governor," Dillard said.
Dillard is expected to face state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner during the March 18 primary. They are vying for the opportunity to face Quinn in the general election on Nov. 4, 2014.
During Tuesday night's event, which was organized by the DuPage County Republican Party, Rutherford stressed that Quinn should never ever be underestimated.
"I'm the only Republican who's running who won a statewide race," Rutherford said. "I'm the candidate who can win it, because I've proven that I can win. No one else has."
But Brady, who already faced Quinn before, says he wants another opportunity to finish what he started.
"It's about who can govern and who can win," Brady said. "I believe we need a consistent conservative. (Running mate) Maria Rodriguez and I have proven ourselves to be conservative candidates who can rally the base of the party. We can hit the ground running."
If elected, Rauner says he would work to make the state "very pro-business," challenge the union bosses and improve schools statewide. He also would seek to get term limits imposed on everyone elected in Springfield.
"Help is on the way," Rauner said. "I'm going to beat Quinn, we're going to win this election, and we're going to transform our state government."
Rauner also introduced his running mate, Wheaton City Council member Evelyn Sanguinetti. Rutherford chose businessman Steve Kim of Northbrook, and Dillard is running with state Rep. Jil Tracy of Quincy.
DuPage GOP Chairman Darlene Ruscitti said Tuesday's event was intended to give the party faithful an opportunity to meet the candidates and talk one-on-one with them.
She said all four candidates are "very strong contenders" and urged the more than 200 people who attended to help their favorite candidate during the primary. "They should work for a candidate of their choice and really get involved. They can't sit on the sidelines."