Rauner Downplays Role in Primary Losses

The governor did not fault his Turnaround Agenda when addressing failed primary campaigns funded by his political allies

During a speech at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Tuesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner dispelled claims that losses in two key races for the Illinois legislature were indicative of the electorate’s rejection of his Turnaround Agenda.

"To say, 'Well, this is a signal on two high-profile races because they went a certain way that means our turnaround efforts are not approved or not supported,' that's absolutely not the case," Rauner said.

Rauner’s allies poured large amounts of money into two Illinois primaries: the Democratic primary for the state’s 5th House District and the Republican primary for the state’s 50th Senate District.

Despite spending $4.1 million, incumbent Ken Dunkin was beat out by political newcomer Juliana Stratton in the race for his Illinois House seat.

Dunkin came under fire from fellow Democrats after he broke up the Democratic super-majority in the Illinois House of Representatives last year, siding with Gov. Bruce Rauner on certain budget issues.

More than $6.1 million was spent over the course of the race, the most money spent on a race for the Illinois legislature in the state's history. 

Rauner allies also funded Bryce Benton’s bid for Sam McCann’s Illinois Senate seat. Benton spent more than $3 million over the course of his campaign.

This came in the wake of McCann’s decision to side with Democrats on a bill to push stalled union contracts into arbitration.

“I think it’s a mistake to read much into any one election for any one candidate in the Legislature,” Rauner said.

Rauner also addressed Illinois’ budget impasse, which dates back to July of last year. Negotiations surrounding the state’s budget have hinged on Rauner’s pro-business, anti-union agenda.

“I hope we’ll get a budget deal as part of a compromise on a bipartisan basis to do what’s right for the people of Illinois,” Rauner said.

The governor noted that he is looking for a compromise that includes “some possible revenues, some expense cuts, as well as reform.”

“I’m willing to compromise on virtually anything,” Rauner added.

During his speech, the governor claimed that his office had reached out to Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan last week, but had yet to hear back. 

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