Rauner says he sought others to run for governor in his place, blames Trump for loss
CHICAGO — Gov. Bruce Rauner said he sought out other candidates to run in his place after a narrow primary election victory.
And as Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker sat with President Donald Trump Thursday, Rauner placed part of the blame for his nearly 16-point election loss last month on the Republican president.
Rauner made the big reveal in an exclusive interview with ABC 7 Chicago, where he said he talked to four people about taking his place after beating Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives by only 2.8 percent.
“I said, ‘I’ll step aside, I’ll give you huge financial resources, you run for governor. I’ll support your … you have as good or better chance to get elected than me’,” Rauner said. “All four of them said ‘no, too tough, too unlikely, too difficult’.”
One of those he sought, ABC 7 reported, was former state Sen. Karen McConnaughay. ABC 7 also reported another possible candidate was Cubs part owner Todd Ricketts.
Rauner went on to lose re-election last month to Democrat J.B. Pritzker by nearly 16 points.
Ives said she was not one of the four asked.
“It was obvious from the beginning that he was not serious about winning the race so he destroyed Republicans up and down the ticket by not bowing out politely and letting someone else take the lead,” Ives said.
She said there’s no doubt in her mind GOP leadership in Illinois knew about this and “let this go on.” She demanded top leadership step down.
“It’s really unfortunate for everybody involved in politics who now completely understand that [Rauner] essentially bought his race and then lied down to the Democrats and was never going to be the watchdog that we need in the face of Pritzker’s tax increase and increased spending that will drive Illinois to the brink of disaster,” Ives said.
Rauner also told the TV station he thought the election of Trump made his chances of re-election low.
“When President Trump won the White House but lost Illinois by more than 16 points, I think 16 to 17 points, that changed the dynamic from good chance of re-election to a very, very difficult chance for re-election,” Rauner said.
Rauner said he would have done better if someone else took the White House.
“I personally believe that if [U.S.] Sen. [Hillary] Clinton had won the White House, I think the odds of us winning the election would have been dramatically higher,” Rauner said.
“Politics is a very tough game,” Ives said. “If you’re heart’s not in it, it will show through and voters will know you’re not authentic and Rauner was not authentic and voters knew it.”
“I hope it’s a wake up call for all these other elected officials who sat on the sidelines while Rauner lied about who I am and what I stand for and they let him get away with it,” Ives said.
The same day Rauner’s comments aired, Pritzker sat with Trump at the White House to talk about federal and state partnerships. Pritzker was with other governors-elect and Trump administration officials.