Chicago Tribune –
SPRINGFIELD — Four Republican candidates for governor took on the ruling Democrats and each other today as the out-of-power party searched for relevance amid corn dogs and cotton candy on the GOP’s day at the Illinois State Fair.
Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, the party’s 2010 nominee who narrowly lost to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, told GOP leaders he wants to build upon the “foundation we started and finish the job.”
Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, who lost the 2010 primary to Brady by 193 votes, reminded a gathering of county chairmen that “every vote counts.”
Treasurer Dan Rutherford pointed out that he is the only one of the four Republican governor candidates who has “actually won a statewide race.”
And wealthy venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, who already has spent big money on the race and is expected to invest even more, vowed to rebuild Illinois into a viable two-party state, but brushed off myriad questions on where he stands on the issues.
Rauner, who rode a motorcycle to meet with party officials, wouldn’t even say whether he supports the idea of requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
The evasiveness showed Rauner can stick to a script, but it opened him up to a round of criticism from rivals.
Brady said voters need to know where candidates stand, Dillard said he comes with “experience money can’t buy,” and Rutherford pointed out this is not his first time he’s been to the state fair or chicken dinner circuit throughout the state.
“Bottom line is I am the guy who can win this race,” Rutherford said.
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who is seeking re-election, told the crowd that state government under Quinn will give Illinoisans a growing debt of $9 billion by Christmas and said voters are tired of 10 years of Democratic rule. She said she could smell in the air that change is “brewing.”
Jack Dorgan, the new Illinois Republican chairman, said he wished he could throw all of the governor contenders into a blender to come up with the perfect candidate. He suggested the crowded field may winnow itself when candidates evaluate their support the next few months, but said it is still too soon for that.