ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK
Several statehouse Republicans say their party is united in supporting conservative values. They’re just not sure about the top of the ticket.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signing legislation this week to expand taxpayer-funded abortions seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for some lawmakers.
State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said Rauner failed at lowering taxes, failed at blocking a Chicago pension bailout, and failed at protecting taxpayers from funding abortions.
“So he’s a failed governor,” McSweeney said, “and he is obviously not a Republican. I think Bruce Rauner is better to run in the Democrat primary.”
In addition to the taxpayer-funded abortion bill, a $5 billion income tax increase and an education funding-reform measure that Republicans say bails out Chicago school pensions also became law this summer.
State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said there’s some real problems with trust.
“[Rauner] needs to be able to pursue policies that bring the caucus together and aren’t diabolically opposed to the caucus,” McConchie said, “and this is one of those things I think is a misstep.”
Illinois Republican leaders are mostly silent on criticizing Rauner for signing the abortion bill.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, released a statement saying he’s displeased.
“The governor and I disagree on this issue and I did not support the bill,” Durkin said. “Moving forward, it’s important for Republicans to remember to come together. There is much work that needs to be done to make Illinois a thriving and vibrant state and we are committed to finishing the job.”
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said he’s disappointed.
“I voted against House Bill 40 and do not support the legislation,” Brady said. However, he said, “I stand ready to work with the governor on the key economic issues and other challenges facing Illinois.”
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, who is not seeking another term, had a different tune on how the party should handle the multi-millionaire, first-term governor.
“Leaders in the party are going to have to step up and say, ‘listen, we will do without your millions,’” McCarter said. “Will it set us back a cycle? Perhaps, but at least we’ll be able to live with ourselves. At least we won’t have a party that’s built on betrayal.”
McCarter and several other Republicans said Rauner tainted the Republican brand and he shouldn’t run for another term.
The group CatholicVote.org went as far as calling for Rauner to resign. The group’s, President Brian Burch, said in statement, “There is no sugarcoating the fact that he has lost the trust and confidence of the Republican Party in Illinois.”
Rauner’s campaign said he is running for re-election next year.
Renee Holmes, Williamson County Republican Party chair, said Rauner should run again because “we know who he is.”
“He has a lot of good administrative ability,” Holmes said, “and a lot of good ideas for pulling Illinois out of the current mess we’re in.”
Holmes acknowledged not everyone in her county’s party agrees with her.
“There are several that would like for somebody to oppose [Rauner] in the primary, I just don’t happen to be one of them,” she said.
Holmes said the state can’t afford liberal fiscal policies, something she said Rauner is fighting against.
“Our future generations cannot afford that,” she said.
Illinois Republican State Central Committeeman Shaun Murphy said in a Facebook post he’s disappointed Rauner signed the abortion bill.
“I stand strongly behind the work of former Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde,” Murphy wrote, “who passed the federal Hyde Amendment which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions and believe that provision should be honored both federally and in the State of Illinois.”
Susan Wynn, president of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women, said in a statement she also was disappointed.
“Not only is this bill contentious by all accounts, but the fiscal ramifications of the bill are still unknown,” Wynn said. “The focus should be on guiding Illinois to a solid fiscal footing; instead, Democrats continue to push divisive policies that endanger our state and its fiscal viability.”