Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

March 17, 2014

Governor candidates gear up for Illinois primary



Dillard, of Hinsdale, focused on criticizing Quinn's leadership and Rauner's friendship with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat. Unions have factored into GOP primary, with labor running anti-Rauner ads on television and several of the state's biggest unions backing Dillard.

"I'm tested and I'm prepared," he said between stops in central and southern Illinois. "I'm the only candidate that can send Pat Quinn packing in November."

Meanwhile, Rutherford, who has recently avoided the spotlight, didn't have a public schedule. He's said the last few weeks of his campaign have been "pretty rough" since a former employee filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and political coercion. Rutherford of Chenoa denies the allegations and has called them politically motivated.

He released a short statement Monday calling himself a "reasonable Republican." There was no mention of his opponents.

"As governor, I will do everything I can to create jobs and encourage business growth," the statement said.

Turnout is typically low in primaries and experts say there isn't much in the final hours that can sway voters, aside from a late-breaking scandal or massive get-out-the-vote efforts. Though others cautioned against relying heavily on primary polls.

"It's down to ground game," said Doug O'Brien, who was chief aide to Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk while he was an Illinois congressman. "Ground game might be able to tighten the margin a little bit."

Dillard said he'd receive so-called "crossover votes," or Democrats pulling Republican ballots to support him over Rauner.

However, political experts said accomplishing that would be a feat, as it would take scores of Democrats to vote Republican in the traditionally low-turnout election in order for him to achieve a win. Some polls show Dillard behind Rauner by roughly 20 percentage points.

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