By Chris Robling -
From the start of this race for the Gubernatorial nomination, my statement has been, “I support all four candidates.”
No more. Why? There are only three.
It is time for Dan Rutherford to internalize the fact that he will never be the Republican nominee for governor, let alone governor.
It cannot be easy for him to do so, in fact, it is probably painful. For his many supporters, it must be a flattening disappointment.
Such is politics, and Rutherford’s own choices.
Were I a downstate Gopper county chairman, I would have bailed on Dan when I learned that he hired a traitorous Chicago Democrat payroller hack – and given him a position of trust on behalf of the people of Illinois.
Somewhere between “Jesse White” and “Karen Yarborough,” I would have called Dan and told him to “Pick up the yard signs, I am going with…”
Long before the “bunking down” story hit the headlines, Dan had to sleep in the bed of hiring a Wolf of the County Building.
I believe none of the charges brought against Dan. Since none of the claims were pursued inside the Treasurer’s office, it is clear they were nursed along for use in the primary.
Dan Rutherford is the victim of a set-up that began with his hiring someone who is not one of us. “To reach out,” I am sure he said at the time, “and to show I can work with anyone, even a Chicago democrat who lost for judge.”
Well, it was the wrong horse. But Dan made it worse by never figuring out what was going on. So, it festered until exploding on Friday, January 31.
By then, Republicans from Galena to Golconda were sizing Dan up as the only viable alternative to newcomer Bruce Rauner. Neither Kirk Dillard nor Bill Brady had the funds to go on TV. Dan at least had $1.5 million, he had won statewide, he knew everyone for 25 years, he was the most assiduous campaigner by a country mile, and establishment-supporting Republicans afraid of Rauner’s “burn the house down” rhetoric were coming around.
But then, he was wounded. Probably mortally, but the coup de grace was administered when the hotel room story, which has been pitched against Dan for at least 18 months, finally made it into print – on the morning of a 700-person northwest suburban GOP debate.
Campaign practice says his supporters will split as the race was split -- for every five voters, two to Rauner, one each to Brady and Dillard and the other becomes undecided and may stay home.
Again, one need not see anything wrong with what Dan did to question his judgment, and thus his readiness for the toughest job in the toughest time that any of us have ever seen.
He was finished.
It is time for a news conference. Dan announces his endorsement of another – probably his fellow downstater Brady -- his decision to transfer or expend his resources on that candidate’s behalf, and their joint decision to sit down with the third candidate to ask him to enter their “Anyone but Rauner” coalition.
Bruce Rauner, for his part, appears inevitable. Like Richard Riordan, George Voinovich, John Lindsay or Michael Bloomberg, he is very diligently taking all steps necessary to secure the G.O.P. nomination without being too… Republican.
This comes as a surprise to many of the rank-and-file. It shouldn’t. Bruce Rauner is not one of us politically, socially, intellectually or culturally. But, given the straits Illinois is in, that should in no way disqualify Rauner from G.O.P. consideration.
Bruce Rauner, without in fact being a Republican (for instance, when 700 of us gathered on Monday, February 10, his lectern was empty) may be our strongest choice to go to Springfield on to cut taxes, stop spending, increase school choice, address pensions and confronting public employee unions.
That is Rauner’s agenda, and it is a Republican agenda, even if he is only an occasional Republican, who, as a big anti-Rauner mailing says, sends hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates.
Which gets us back to Rutherford, Brady and Dillard. One of them is already gone. If the other two remain, then the three of them are selecting Bruce Rauner to carry our standard against Pat Quinn. Maybe they are O.K. with that. Maybe they lack the courage to sacrifice their nursed ambition for the sake of Republican primary voters.
I support all three, Brady, Dillard and Rauner, because one of them must defeat Governor Quinn. The question now is, will 750,000 of us decide who that one is – or will three of us.