Republicans have alternatives to Gov. Rauner to consider

Posted11/7/2017 1:00 AM

And now it's November.

Fortunately for Illinois Republicans, it's an odd-numbered year. There is no election this month. The next two even-numbered years will be election years, and there is no reason not to think that 2018 and 2020 will be disastrous Republican years.


And a disastrous Republican year most likely means a disastrous year for the entire state.

For Illinois Republicans, the clouds on the horizon are looking more and more like Gov. Bruce Rauner will have more time to spend on his motorcycle after the November 2018 election.

Rauner may not have as much money in the bank if his anticipated campaign spending in 2018 actually happens, but don't worry about him. He won't go hungry.

And don't feel sorry for him. Illinois voters gave him the chance to govern -- and maybe to improve -- Illinois. Rauner's lackluster performance not only has attracted competition from wealthy -- and supposedly capable -- Democrats, such as Kennedy and Pritzker. But it is causing dissension and disunity in the state's Republican Party.

Fortunately for Illinois, Rauner's weakness is prompting other Republicans to consider challenging him -- Although it's unlikely that any other Republican candidate will be able to match Rauner's war chest, all the money in the world cannot convince voters that a poorly performing elected official should be elected to another term.

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And although I am certainly Republican-leaning personally, I have to admit that Rauner is not going to light a fire under majority of Republicans.

Here, on the other hand, are three Republicans who could be creditable candidates. They have solid track records as elected officials in Illinois and would bring considerably more to the table than a fat checkbook.

First on my list is one of the relative newcomers, State Rep. Jeanne Ives of DuPage County. Ives, 52, has served in the Illinois House since 2013. The mother of five, Ives is a native of South Dakota and -- one of the most notable items on her bio is that she is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She served in the U.S. Army from 1987-1993.

Ives may not be the most experienced Republican candidate in the field, but she has taken firm positions on many key -- and conservative -- issues and her gender and military background will help her attract both attention and support.

A veteran former Illinois legislator who also could be a formidable candidate -- and who has considered it in the past -- is former State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale.


Dillard, 62, served in the Illinois General Assembly for 20 years. He also served as chief of staff to former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and was director of legislative affairs for former Gov. James R. Thompson. He currently serves as chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority.

Another prominent Illinois legislator who announced his retirement -- because of frustration -- is former Rep. David C. Harris of Arlington Heights. Harris announced his retirement from the Illinois House in early October. He had served in the House for more than 10 years, split over two terms. He, too, has a military and U.S. State Department background. He served in Iraq with the State Department. He is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Of these three, only Ives has expressed interest in running and she is, in fact, gathering petition signatures. Dillard and Harris will likely be surprised to be mentioned in this article and both are unlikely to "drop everything else and run."

Yet, Illinois needs to replace Rauner, and the pack of candidates in the Democrats' race is likely to produce a candidate with a huge -- almost unimaginably large war chest.

Ives, Dillard and Harris may not have the necessary resources, but they do have a better understanding of what Illinois needs.

Ed Murnane,, of Arlington Heights, is retired president of the Illinois Civil Justice League and a former staff member for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

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