GOP Gubernatorial Race

Carol Marin gauges the climate of the Illinois governor race and the support for Republican primary candidates with Chicago Tonight's Paris Schutz, Illinois News Correspondent for Clear Channel Radio in Springfield Nicole Wilson, WBEZ Illinois Politics Reporter Tony Arnold, and Chicago Sun-Times Investigative Reporter Dan Mihalopoulos.


Read an interview with Nicole Wilson.

Rutherford is facing serious allegations – sexual harassment, political corruption. Is his campaign showing signs of suffering?

Probably. Before the allegations surfaced, he was second in the polls behind Rauner, but he has dropped and now Bill Brady has taken the lead after Rauner. It appears there is some negative impact but it’s too early to say.

Do these allegations call his judgment into question?

That’s an interesting question. We have been trying to get man-on-the-street answers but many people say they haven’t been paying attention to this, and those who have paid attention said they can’t say yet whether it will affect their vote. We are waiting to see the outcome in the next few weeks. Poll analysts say Rutherford will definitely lose the vote because some will definitely believe the allegations, and others will not want to take the chance on him.

Are these campaign dramatics voters should take seriously?

I think all allegations, especially political corruption and sexual allegations, should be taken seriously but there should not be a rush to judgment. Rutherford says these claims are politically motivated and false. If he can prove his case before the election, he can survive it possibly.  

The Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows Rauner with 40 percent support of Republican primary voters. This is a strong lead with Bill Brady trailing at 20 percent. Thoughts?

My thought is that money is definitely playing a role in the race. Rauner has been running consistent TV ads for several months and that is an advantage. Whether they know him as a candidate, they know the name.  

Is it safe to say Rauner has it in the bag?

I’m a little hesitant to say that he has it in the bag already, but with numbers like that, especially in Cook County, it is presumable that he will likely be the nominee.

Do you think the anti-Rauner ad campaign being launched by Illinois Freedom PAC will affect his lead?

Probably not.

Why?

Not when it comes to the GOP side. Unless there is something that comes out of it that is similar to Rutherford’s, there is nothing that can bog him down so far. His paying to get his daughter into Walter Payton Prep and his connections to Stuart Levine, former Blagojevich associate; he has survived those allegations. So unless something comes out that is completely immoral, his numbers won’t drop.

Dramatics aside, what issues should candidates be focusing on?

I would definitely say the tax rate. It is set to expire and Illinois already has a financial crisis. With the rate going down, the state is set to lose another $2 billion out of the revenue – and that’s just the first year alone. We have to make some drastic cuts and find a way to consolidate, or we have to make that tax rate permanent which is not a popular move. This is also why Republicans say Quinn has pushed back his budget address.

What about the minimum wage hike?

I think it will be an issue in this legislative session but I’m not sure whether or not it will clear. I believe that business leaders will put up a big fight. It won’t just impact what they are paying their employees in wages, but they will also have to contribute money to the social security pot and unemployment insurance as well, so this is more than just paying additional wages. Depending on how much of a fight they put up, we don’t know where this will end.  

Where does Quinn fit in here?

I think Quinn is just taking it easy. He is letting the GOP nomination play out and hasn’t expressed concern about challenging either candidate. He is just playing it cool and doesn’t appear to be phased at all. After the March primary, we will see more campaigning from him, but as of now he doesn’t have any reason to go on the defense or even the offensive really.

Interview has been condensed and edited.