Gov. Pat Quinn wasted no time in attacking his Republican challenger in his fight to keep his job.
The Chicago Democrat's campaign Tuesday evening released the first attack ad against venture capitalist and first-time candidate Bruce Rauner, who narrowly defeated Sen. Kirk Dillard in the race for the GOP nomination. Republican candidates Sen. Bill Brady and Treasurer Dan Rutherford also trailed.
The 30 second spot, released before Rauner even officially earned the nomination, focuses on his opposition to raising the minimum wage in Illinois.
"I am adamantly, adamantly against raising the minimum wage," Rauner says in the video.
The Winnetka Republican first said he'd lower the state's $8.25 rate by $1 to the national rate of $7.25. Rauner later said he'd raise the state rate under the right circumstances. Quinn has said the state's minimum wage should be at least $10 by the end of the year.
Republicans contend raising the minimum wage would be a job killer, but advocates maintain it would help alleviate poverty. A report released in February by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office indicated both consequences may be accurate.
Though he didn't mention his Republican challenger by name in his victory speech late Tuesday, Quinn did allude to Rauner's wealth, saying he doesn't own mansions and will continue to go to bat for the state's working middle class.
"There is a principle as old as the Bible: If you work hard. If you're working 40 hours a week, and if you're doing your job, you should not have to live in poverty. You should get a decent wage," Quinn told supporters. "We believe in that and we're going to make it happen."
In his remarks to a boisterous throng of supporters, Rauner spent nearly as much time attacking Quinn for what he said were failed policies as he did touting his own agenda.
"Pat Quinn has been governor for five years. And he wants to be governor for another five years. No way!"
Rauner said the best way to get people working again is to run Illinois like a business, adding that the choice for voters in November is "between failure of the past and a new day."
As one of the country’s most solidly blue states, Illinois wasn't supposed to be a battleground, but it's generally agreed upon that a tough race is ahead.
“Can [Quinn] win re-election? Yeah. He’s not a dead man walking,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at The Cook Political Report. “But he’s going to have to run a really strong race.”
His attempts to rein in the country’s worst pension deficit have sparked a revolt by public-employees unions, and an income-tax hike did little to help. Quinn started the year with about $4.5 million in his campaign account, but Rauner can easily match him.
Former Gov. Jim Thompson, who supported Dillard's bid in the primary, said the November race remains a toss-up.
"You're going to see the fight of the century," he said.