With just under three weeks remaining before the March 18 GOP primary, it’s beginning to look a bit late for somebody to come roaring out of the gate and challenge Bruce Rauner for the Republican nomination for governor.
A new poll finds wealthy businessman Rauner maintaining a strong lead with voters with nearly 36 percent, compared to 17 percent for Kirk Dillard, 13 percent for Bill Brady and 7 percent for Dan Rutherford.
Rauner’s lead also appears solid in all demographic and geographic areas of the state, with the candidate winning with women, men and all age groups. More important, perhaps, Rauner also won handily in Chicago, suburban Cook County, the collar counties and downstate as well.
For weeks, all three other candidates in the field have each argued he is best positioned to oppose Rauner’s rise as frontrunner, with little to show for their efforts. As well, a number of third-part groups, including unions and Democratic organizations from outside the state, have aired or are preparing to run TV ads attacking Rauner directly.
Yet little appears to be making a dent in Rauner’s standing as front-runner. That may be due, in part, to the extraordinarily deep pockets the wealthy Winnetka businessman has shown throughout the campaign. To date, Rauner has donated as much as $5 million of his own money to his cause.
His closest fundraising competitor, state treasurer Rutherford, reported having $1.3 million in his campaign war chest before being hit by a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.
The poll by We Ask America, the polling arm of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, surveyed 1,178 likely Republican voters on Tuesday night and had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.