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updated: 3/10/2014 9:28 PM

GOP governor candidates hit the road for final push

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  • Video: Rauner in Arlington Heights

  • Clockwise from top left, Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Dan Rutherford and Bruce Rauner are seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

      Clockwise from top left, Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Dan Rutherford and Bruce Rauner are seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

  • GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner visits with voters at the Arlington Heights Metra train station Monday morning.

       GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner visits with voters at the Arlington Heights Metra train station Monday morning.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner visits with Tom Kivlahan of Arlington Heights at the Dunton House Monday morning in downtown Arlington Heights.

       GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner visits with Tom Kivlahan of Arlington Heights at the Dunton House Monday morning in downtown Arlington Heights.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, right, meets Roch Tranel of Tranel Financial Group during a bus campaign stop in Libertyville Monday morning.

       Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, right, meets Roch Tranel of Tranel Financial Group during a bus campaign stop in Libertyville Monday morning.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner meets with Lake County supporters Monday at Tranel Financial Group in Libertyville.

       Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner meets with Lake County supporters Monday at Tranel Financial Group in Libertyville.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comRepublican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, left, greets Norman Roth of Libertyville during Monday morning's campaign stop in at Tranel Financial Group in Libertyville.

      Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comRepublican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, left, greets Norman Roth of Libertyville during Monday morning's campaign stop in at Tranel Financial Group in Libertyville.

 
 

Tom Kivlahan didn't realize Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner was making a campaign stop Monday morning at Dunton House restaurant in downtown Arlington Heights.

So while he ate his breakfast, Kivlahan read newspaper articles about Rauner on his cellphone, perused an anti-Rauner website, and lastly, looked at Rauner's website.

"I haven't seen a single one of his ads, and I didn't even know he was a Republican until 45 minutes ago," he said.

Kivlahan -- an Arlington Heights attorney who typically votes Democrat but says he's an independent -- says he might vote for the North Shore businessman in next Tuesday's primary election.

With a week to go before the primary, the GOP candidates for governor are crisscrossing Illinois to make their final pitches to voters in person as their TV spots duel on the airwaves.

The race has consumed Illinois' political world, but some average voters might just be tuning in now.

A spokesman for state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale said his always-changing schedule includes talking to commuters at Union Station in Chicago Tuesday and stops Wednesday at the top of the state in Rockford and near the bottom in Marion.

And state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington will be hitting several cities downstate in the coming days before heading back to the Chicago area for St. Patrick's Day parades and other events in the final days of the campaign.

A spokeswoman for Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford didn't return a request for comment.

The four will meet up Thursday in Chicago for their final televised debate, broadcast at 7 p.m. on WTTW-TV Channel 11.

Candidates rushing to grab last-minute support will find record numbers of eligible voters, if suburban Cook County is an indication. Clerk David Orr said the number of registered voters in suburban Cook County has hit a record at more than 1.4 million people, a fraction of whom will actually vote in the primary.

That's 13,000 more than the previous record set in the 2010 primary, helped in part by the registration of 3,423 17-year-olds. Under a new law, 17-year-olds can vote for the first time if they will be 18 before the Nov. 4 general election.

In 2010, 25.5 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the primary.

After a brief stop at Dunton House Monday morning, Rauner, wearing cowboy boots and a fleece vest, went across the street to the Arlington Heights Metra station and shook hands with commuters. He later made stops Monday in Libertyville and St. Charles.

Not everyone Rauner encountered was a fan, and most morning commuters seemed largely indifferent to his appearance.

But a few were interested in talking to him about term limits, jobs and taxes. Kivlahan and Rauner spoke briefly as Rauner walked through the Dunton House restaurant, introducing himself to customers.

"I like the fact that he's a businessman and an outsider," Kivlahan said. "There's nothing wrong with being rich and successful. My only question is, why would a guy like that want a job like this?"

• Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell contributed to this story.

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