Rauner won't endorse Trump, skipping GOP National Convention

  • Bruce Rauner

    Bruce Rauner

 
 
Updated 5/5/2016 8:21 PM

Gov. Bruce Rauner won't endorse Republican Donald Trump for president and will skip the party's summer convention, despite saying after Illinois' primary he'd back the businessman if he was the GOP nominee.

A senior administration official confirmed Rauner's decision Thursday, days after Trump's top two opponents for the GOP presidential nomination dropped from the race.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Rauner has not endorsed any candidate, and in the week after Illinois' March primary he said of Trump: "I will support the Republican Party's nominee for president."

But a week later in Wilmette, Rauner also criticized the tone of the presidential race: "I'm appalled by the rhetoric. It's appalling," Rauner said. "And it's ugly and it's nasty and it's weird, and just some of the statements that get made, I'm just, I'm horrified."

At the time, Trump was battling for the nomination with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Among Illinois Republicans, U.S. Rep. Bob Dold of Kenilworth has been one of the most vocally critical of Trump for months. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park was the first high-profile Illinois Republican to say he'll skip the convention, though he has said previously he'd support Trump if he was nominated.

The Republican National Convention in July in Cleveland would have been Rauner's first as governor and de facto leader of the Illinois party. His decision to skip it comes as Republicans across the country have weighed how to deal with a likely nominee who is both controversial and has been embraced by millions of voters.

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On Thursday, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, one of the party's key national leaders, said he is "just not ready" to endorse Trump.

Trump replied via a statement: "I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda."

Dold's and Kirk's re-elections are among the Republican Party's top priorities in November, and Democrats have in recent weeks tried to tied both incumbents to Trump.

Dold is running against Democrat Brad Schneider of Deerfield for the third election in a row. Kirk faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates in November.

In deciding whether to back Trump, Illinois Republican leaders also have to consider the potential effect on other races on the ballot. Republicans hope to pick up seats in the Illinois Capitol, where Democrats hold large majorities in both the House and Senate.

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