Suburban GOP upset enough with abortion bill to find challenger to Rauner?

Wheaton's Ives 'flattered' at buzz for a possible candidacy

Wheaton Republican state Rep. Jeannie Ives said Friday she is flattered by all the talk about whether she will run against incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the March primary.

Especially after Rauner signed a law Thursday to have Medicaid pay for abortions, he is “unelectable as a Republican,” she said.

But state party leader Tim Schneider of Bartlett says that although Republicans are disappointed in Rauner, they will “focus on issues that unite us as Republicans and as Illinoisans.”

“There is no daylight between Gov. Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party,” Schneider said in a statement issued Thursday. He declined to elaborate Friday.

Tell that to state Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard, the party's floor leader.

He issued a blistering statement criticizing Rauner.

“In the face of overwhelming evidence of Rauner's inability to competently administer the Illinois government, inability to stand up to Mike Madigan effectively, and inability to keep his word and his commitments, I can no longer support him,” Breen said. “And whether or not they are able to agree publicly, I know hundreds of elected Republicans, along with hundreds of thousands of Republican voters, who feel the same way I do.”

Breen later said he, too, has been asked about running for governor.

“I'm more interested in ensuring we (Republicans) have a good process to figure out who should be our standbearer in the fall (election),” he said.

“The Rauner experiment is over,” he continued, comparing Republicans' situation to going through the five stages of grief: “We're (Republicans) either at denial or anger, and we need to get ourselves to acceptance as soon as possible.”

Ives for governor?

Ives' name is being thrown about on radio, social media and print as a strong primary challenger to Rauner who would draw support from outraged social conservatives.

“That's very flattering ... but there's been no decision on my part,” Ives said.

She was one of many Republican legislators who publicly campaigned for Rauner's “Turnaround Agenda,” which dealt with money-related matters such as workers' compensation and pensions.

But she called Thursday's decision on abortion ”egregious” and “very extreme.”

“Everybody I talk to is disavowing him. ... This is a bridge too far for most Republicans,” she said.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti of Wheaton released a statement disagreeing with Rauner but also saying she would continue to work with him to accomplish other goals.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis, also a fan of the Turnaround Agenda, said Rauner should have vetoed the bill on cost alone, saying the state is in “deep financial stress” and can't afford new spending.

He is also disappointed with Rauner's recent actions concerning treatment of undocumented immigrants. But, he said, he knew Rauner was not a social conservative.

“I respect the man. I think he has done a great job in standing up to Michael Madigan,” Oberweis said.

Party unity?

Schneider said the party must focus on beating the Democrats.

“We need a check on the Democrats in Springfield,” said Pat Brady of St. Charles, former leader of the state Republican Party and a Rauner supporter. He doesn't see a viable challenger to Rauner, especially since he has a huge campaign fund and a month of signature-collecting under his belt. Gubernatorial candidates need a minimum of 5,000 signatures on their petitions, which are due Dec. 4.

“I think the reality is nobody could beat him in a primary,” Brady said.

“The political reality in this state is there are a substantial amount of voters in Cook and the collar counties” that are abortion rights supporters, Brady said. “He took a real strong talking point away from the Democrats.”

Ives disagrees.

“Money isn't everything. The grass-roots (Republicans) are very upset. I'm not sure Rauner's re-electable.

“Maybe if he switched parties he might be able to run as a Democrat.”

Wheaton Republican Jeanne Ives says she's flattered by talk of her running for governor, but has made no decision.
Peter Breen
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