The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Could Dick Durbin Save Us From A 2nd Term For Governor Rauner?

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 4, 2016 6:48PM

Sen. Dick Durbin. Credit: John V. Santore, Medill News Service

Even though the 2016 election cycle only officially began last week, despite an absurdly 15+ month lead up to it, some Illinoisans are already speculating on the 2018 gubernatorial race.

An Illinois Observer poll this week found that in a hypothetical election between current Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, the Senator leads the governor by 9 points, at 43.7 percent.

While it seems like a long way off, the speculation isn’t surprising, as Rauner hasn’t exactly had the best first term in office. Despite his attempts to lay all of the blame for the state budget impasse - the effects of which are still being felt by many despite the stopgap budget - on his archnemesis Michael Madigan and other Democratic legislators, Rauner’s approval rating has been less than stellar. A May poll found that Rauner is the 6th most disliked governor in the country, and at the end of that month an Illinois Insider poll put Rauner’s approval rating at 33 percent.

Durbin has been cagey about a potential gubernatorial run. While he’s previously said he wouldn’t “rule it out,” he told NBC5’s Ward Room during the Democratic National Convention that he wasn’t really focused on the idea. “The election for governor of Illinois is about 30 months away,” said Durbin. “I say to those who are focusing on that, they’ve lost sight of the most important election that is going to be just a few months from now.”

While many in the state aren’t exactly thrilled with Rauner, given that just as many are unhappy with Speaker Madigan and other Democratic legislators, any challenger would need to have decent name recognition, along with the ability to raise an unholy amount of money. Durbin at least seems to have the name for it. Last week 48.8 percent of people surveyed in a We Ask America poll said they’d most likely vote for him over other potential Democratic nominees, which included Kwame Roul, Robin Kelly, and former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Whoever ends up challenging Rauner for a stay in the Executive Mansion in Springfield though, will need to be able to rake in millions of dollars. Rauner’s last quarterly report filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections showed he has more than $15,000,000 in his war chest, a figure that will likely grow over the coming years.