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Rauner Launches 2-Day State Tour Totally Unrelated To Re-Election Campaign

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 11, 2017 7:22PM

Gov. Bruce Rauner, in Chicago on Mexican Independence Day. (By Tyler LaRiviere/Chicagoist)

Because what Illinois really needs most, after 22 months without a fully-funded budget, is a very early start to its next gubernatorial election: Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner launched a multi-stop tour of the state on Tuesday. Much like his recent rounds of commercials that definitely aren’t campaign ads (but look like them) he’s appeared in to promote his “real reform budget,” the tour is totally not an “official launch” of his campaign.

Rauner’s “real reform budget,” as it’s described on the website Fix Illinois, looks a lot like a stripped-down version of his ‘turnaround agenda,’ calling for a freeze in property taxes, term limits, and a government spending cap. According to the Associated Press, Rauner’s taking that message “directly to voters” on the road trip, with a promise to "deliver real change.”

The Rauner camp sent out a fundraising email Tuesday morning asking potential donors to “directly help our grassroots team as we prep for this trip,” the trip is being paid for with “political resources out of an abundance of caution,” and reports are calling it a campaign launch. But the Illinois Republican Party says it’s definitely not that.

“This tour is not the governor formally launching his reelection campaign,” the Illinois GOP said in a statement given to Rich Miller at Capitol Fax. “He’s traveling the state to talk about the need for a balanced budget with reforms.”

Rauner’s tour comes as he ranks among the top-ten least favored governors in America. A Morning Consult poll of 85,000 registered voters across the country taken from January to March ranked him at the 8th most unpopular governor, with 49 percent of those polled disapproving of him. That’s two slots lower than last year’s poll, which ranked him 6th. A March Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Poll showed Rauner with a 58 percent disapproval rating.

An already crowded field of challengers roundly criticized Rauner on Tuesday over the tour as well as budget impasse, which forced Northeastern Illinois University to cancel classes on Tuesday, one of three furlough days scheduled thanks to budget cuts.

Billionaire and Illinois gubernatorial challenger JB Pritzker speaks with reporters at a labor rally outside a nursing home in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

"Instead of working on passing a state budget that is now more than 21 months overdue, Governor Rauner is out campaigning in an attempt to distract us from the 22,000 seniors outside of Chicago who have lost access to services, the 130,000 low-income college students who are not receiving tuition grants, the nearly 47,000 children whose parents are without affordable child care, and the 80,000 people who have lost access to mental health services in Illinois,” said Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar in a statement given to ABC7.

On Facebook, billionaire JB Pritzker said Rauner was putting politics ahead of his job as governor. “While Rauner heads out on the campaign trail, our state still doesn’t have a budget and Northeastern campus is shutting down again,” said Pritzker. “This is devastating. Illinois families have had enough of Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership and they are ready for a progressive leader who will fight for what’s right and actually get things done for our state.”

The group Illinois Working Together also chided the governor, saying it was "downright shameful" Rauner "would rather campaign for his re-election than do his job."

"The question Illinois residents should be asking is: why is Rauner campaigning for re-election when he has failed to propose a balanced budget, his most basic responsibility as governor," Illinois Working Together Director Jake Lewis said. "Instead of campaigning, the governor should drop the political games, propose a balanced budget, and do his job."