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Final days of Illinois gubernatorial campaign have Rauner holding strong lead

Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidates
Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidates
Terrance Antonio James - Getty Images

In a June 2013 ‘We Ask America’ poll, likely GOP primary voters backed State Treasurer Dan Rutherford with 22%, State Senator Bill Brady with 18%, Chicago businessman Bruce Rauner with 12% and State Senator Kirk Dillard with 11%. Things have changed quite a bit since then. Now that same source has Rauner leading by a very wide margin with only Dillard having any type of chance to catch him by next Tuesday’s Primary Election.

Tuesday was also big this week. Another ‘We Ask America’ poll came out with a slight adjustment to the question. They asked 1,235 likely GOP voters “if the Republican Primary Election for governor were held today – and you HAD to choose a candidate – for whom would you vote” to take the undecided factor out of the equation. The results had Rauner at 46.6% with Dillard, Brady and Rutherford respectively at 25.76, 18.9, and 8.88%. The reason why only Dillard has a chance is money. Although the Illinois Freedom PAC announced Tuesday that they were going to end their anti-Rauner television ad campaign, Dillard was expected to receive $400,000 in donations this week from unions that endorsed him to keep the air assault going. Brady’s problem is simply lack of money to wage any type of television campaign.

At first, many Illinois Statehouse insiders suspected that the anti-Rauner labor forces had conceded the race. But another theory was that with the $400,000 infusion, Dillard could actually purchase air-time cheaper, possibly at even half the price of a PAC.

By the end of tomorrow, most of the newspapers in the state will have provided their endorsements with most falling to either Rauner or Dillard. But, in an interesting note, Rauner didn’t even meet with the editorial board of the Springfield Journal-Register, thus conceding their endorsement to Dillard. Rauner has been able to run a campaign that is vague on specifics and no political record to scour. His heavy television, pro-term limits, anti-labor campaign has apparently connected with Illinois Republicans. The question is, unless Dillard pulls off a stunner, will that type of campaign work in the General Election in a very pro-labor, blue state?