Lester: Abortion rights PAC calls on Rauner to recruit moderates

Gov. Bruce Rauner's signing of an abortion rights bill last month made him a target of conservatives, some of whom vow a battle for the Republican nomination in next year's primary.

Now, a leading reproductive rights political action committee is jumping into the fray with a promise to work against abortion opponents like state Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard, state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine and state Sen. Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods.

Personal PAC President Terry Cosgrove says his group - which spent more than $1.5 million on 18 legislative races in 2016 - is going to be involved in the upcoming election "more than we ever have been."

The PAC plans ads and mailers criticizing repeal efforts such as the one filed by Breen and McConchie in recent days. "We are not going to be quiet about it," he says.

Cosgrove says the PAC will back moderate Republicans if they run for open seats and called on multimillionaire Rauner to do the same. "The time is right for Rauner to recruit moderate candidates," he says.


The legislation Rauner signed Sept. 28 ensures abortion remains legal in Illinois even if Roe v. Wade is overturned and also allows state employees and Medicaid recipients access to abortions.

Rauner's move shocked some, though he had declared differing views on abortion. As a gubernatorial candidate, he told Personal PAC and others that he supported abortion rights. Then he flipped on the issue, twice telling conservatives he'd veto the measure before ultimately supporting it.

"Rosemary Mulligan used to tell her colleagues, 'There's a word for people who try to walk the middle of the road on abortion: Roadkill,'" Cosgrove says of his good friend, the late state representative from Des Plaines, who was one of the few pro-abortion rights Republicans in the statehouse.

Could Roskam pull support?

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton says he's "reevaluating" his support for Rauner over the abortion law. Spokeswoman Veronica Vera says Roskam's primary focus right now is on crafting a new tax policy, but that the Wheaton Republican thinks Rauner's signing of the bill was a mistake.

Little, but fierce

The 196-student St. Thomas of Villanova in Palatine again outdid far larger teams at the state cross country championship this month in Normal, with the boys' team winning the overall championship and the girls' team taking second place.

"We are a small school and luckily just have committed, amazing runners who work together and still have fun," Coach Mike Murphy tells me. Congratulations to them.

Lawsuit dropped

The Illinois Retail Merchants' Association has dropped its lawsuit against Cook County now that the penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax has been repealed. "Our first priority was to ensure consumers and retailers would not be saddled with this tax," said Rob Karr, the association's president and CEO.

He thanked sponsors of the repeal, among them Republican Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider of Bartlett and Sean Morrison of Palos Park.

New projects around suburbs unveiled

A bicycle and pedestrian plan for residents of Aurora, Algonquin, Elgin, McHenry, Naperville and South Elgin, a study of extending the Des Plaines River Trail and a land use plan along the Route 31 corridor between Algonquin and Cary are among 34 new projects of The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

Also on the list is a plan for the McHenry County Council of Governments on how governments can share services, increase efficiencies and expand services for residents.

CMAP uses federal funds to help communities enhance quality of life through urban planning. For more about the plans, visit

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The boys cross country team from St. Thomas of Villanova in Palatine won the state championship in Normal. Courtesy of Mike Murphy
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