CHICAGO - While the names of union coalitions and political action committees have changed over the past few weeks, their efforts are becoming more focused as the March 18 primary gets closer.
Pro-union groups such as Republican Fund for Progress & Jobs, the Fund for Prosperity & Jobs, the Illinois Freedom PAC and the Democrat Governors Association are raising money, running ads, and preparing to put boots on the ground - all to try and stop Bruce Rauner from winning the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
For teachers and public sector unions, stopping Rauner in the primary would prevent them having to spend possibly historic amounts of money on the November General Election.
Insiders tell Illinois Review it would also allow the unions to teach Gov. Quinn and House Speaker Madigan a lesson after they passed and signed a pension reform bill over the objections of the unions.
If state Sen. Kirk Dillard wins the GOP nomination, the teachers unions and AFSCME (which have endorsed Dillard) will, we are told, sit out the General Election and let the chips fall where they may.
Supposedly the union polling shows the race between Rauner and Dillard "within a few points."
How truthful those reports are is debatable. But there are indications there may be some truth to it.
Meanwhile the anti-Rauner groups continue to raise money. The Republican Fund for Progress & Jobs recently raised another $485,000 from four union-affiliated groups: the Prosperity and Jobs Fund, Chicago Federation of Labor, the Illinois Education Association and the Operating Engineers Local 150.
Powerful union players are also getting involved:
Ramirez has served or is serving on several powerful boards in Democrat-controlled Cook County. His bio says that since 2008, Ramirez has served on the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board of Directors as Vice-Chairman. In 2012, he was named to the Chicago Infrastructure Trust board and the Cook County President's Council of Economic Advisors.
Ramirez currently serves as a member of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Labor Advisory Committee, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau Board of Directors, the Navy Pier, Inc. Board of Directors, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and is co-chairman of the City of Chicago Labor Management Cooperative Committee (LMCC) and on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Board of Directors.
Ramirez' Fund for Prosperity political action group has received nearly half a million from the Workers' Interest Network. Workers Interest Network based from a post office box in Chicago, featured photos of AFSCME pickets in Chicago - with which the Chicago Federation of Labor has been coordinating.
Illinois Review has confirmed that endorsements from these unions involves not only funds, but thousands of members working the polling centers on Election Day. With these endorsements, questions arise as to whether Rauner's millions spent on ads could be dwarfed by the union members' efforts at the polls on Dillard's behalf.
In a vote-rich Democrat county like Cook, Rauner's Republican backing may be outshined by union members backing Dillard. Whether loyal Democratic union members are willing to pull GOP ballots on March 18th remains to be seen.