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Kirk Dillard gains momentum; Bruce Rauner slips on 'nursing home abuse' lawsuits

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"I'm moving. Rutherford is sinking. Brady is sinking. And Rauner is also sinking. And I'm coming up. That's a ten point swing in a very short period of time," said a confident Kirk Dillard, referring to a newly-released We Ask America poll. Dillard is an Illinois state senator from Hinsdale and is running for governor of Illinois in the upcoming Republican primary (Tuesday, March 18).

Dillard was referring to a new poll that came out yesterday that showed Dillard with some movement. "But I will tell you in that We Ask America poll, it's pretty clear," said Dillard. "I'm moving."

Indeed, as this latest poll published by Rich Miller's Capitol Fax.

But second place is still second place. The latest We Ask America results, with previous two results (most recent first) in parentheses

Rauner: 36% (35, 39)

Dillard: 17% (13, 8)

Brady: 13% (14, 11)

Rutherford: 7% (8, 8)

Undecided: 27% (30, 35)

Indeed he is moving on up. Dillard is starting to feel his campaign is gaining momentum. At a press conference yesterday in which he was announcing yet another endorsement, this one from a normally Democratic-leaning group, Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA), Dillard said, "Things shift." Just last week Dillard got the endorsement of the Illinois Education Association, which represents 130,000 Illinois elementary and secondary teachers as well as higher education faculty, staff and educational support professionals.

The IEA endorsement came with a $50,000 cash prize, money that is sorely needed by Dillard.

A new poll released today shows what Dillard means by "things shift."

Rich Miller's Capitol Fax is reporting yesterday that Dillard has jumped 4 points since the last "We Ask America poll" taken on February 18th. Dillard has gained nine points since the February 13th poll.

One of the reasons, says Miller, is that the IEA endorsement is having an "impact," coupled with Dan Rutherford’s major troubles and effectively the end of the Rutherford campaign.

The fourth candidate in the race, State Senator Bill Brady, just has not gained much footing, failing to raise even a minimal amount of money. That money has essentially gone to Bruce Rauner, including donations Brady received in 2010 by Bruce Rauner.

Dillard said "People suddenly with a couple weeks out will go 'Oh, now I need to start paying attention.'"

Then Dillard went into campaign mode. "Bruce Rauner is a Rahm Emanuel social liberal Chicago Democrat and if Bruce Rauner, or Pat Quinn or Paul Vallas are in charge every one of the four leaders of the legislature are from Cook County," said Dillard.

Yesterday’s endorsement was from the IRTA and Executive Director Jim Bachman said this: "Senator Dillard is clearly the one candidate who understands the sacrifices made by retired teachers and the contributions they have made to our society and our children. It's important for our membership to unite behind Senator Dillard as the only viable alternative to the anti-education platform of someone like Bruce Rauner."

Dillard, whose father was a public school teacher for 40 years, was honored by the group's support. "This means so much to me," Dillard said. "Many of our retired teachers were the ones who taught and educated today's leaders, business executives and entrepreneurs. We owe our success to their dedication and tireless efforts."

Dillard said education would be a top priority. “We simply must do better when it comes to preparing our children for the jobs of tomorrow. I have a Best in Class Education plan that empowers teachers to do what they do best – teach.”

The endorsements from the IRTA and the IEA add to the growing momentum behind Dillard. Dillard picked up the endorsement of the Daily Herald, the largest suburban newspaper in the Chicago area.

Bruce Rauner, on the other hand, has been taking a beating and is not having the best couple of weeks, as he has been knocked back by ads produced by a non-partisan organization, the Illinois Freedom PAC, a non-partisan coalition established to educate middle class voters about the issues at stake in the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial election.

The ads are getting to Rauner, as he is more on the defensive of late, talking less about issues and more about Stuart Levine and his "nursing home business." Illinois Freedom PAC spokesperson Michael Murray says that the latest ad shows that Rauner and GTCR showed a "callous disregard for human life" and "severe corporate greed."

Rauner is crying foul.

Bruce Rauner wants these ads to stop, or in legal language, the "cease and desist." A Rauner attorney sent the television stations running the Illinois Freedom PAC a letter, stating, "I am counsel to gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, and in that capacity request that you 'cease and desist' from any broadcast of Illinois Freedom PAC’s false, misleading, deceptive and unsubstantiated new advertisement against Mr. Rauner."

Bruce Rauner's campaign attorney, Michael G. Adams, a Washington D.C. lawyer working for the law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl, added that "broadcasters cannot air independent campaign advertisements that violate the 'public trust' granted to you by your license, and you have a duty to protect the public from false, misleading or deceptive advertising."

The claim by Mr. Adams is that the abuse and deaths did not occur while GTCR owned the nursing home.

According to Rich Miller's Capitol Fax, the television stations rejected the demand by the Rauner campaign and the Illinois Freedom PAC responded to the request in what is a three-page legal brief defending the ad point-by-point.

Carol Marin wrote about the "nursing home lawsuits" today. Marin reported that in January, Rauner was asked about the deaths and financial judgments and said then that "The attacks, we will have plenty of time to talk about them, there's no there, there."

But the issue isn't going away anytime soon.

In January, Rauner was asked about the deaths and financial judgments. "The attacks, we will have plenty of time to talk about them, there's no there, there," he said. When asked if his firm was culpable for the jury verdicts, Rauner replied no.

Meanwhile, Dillard campaign around the state, talking about the issues. Rauner is forced to talk about billion dollar lawsuit judgments and the issues are secondary.

***

Sources:

Rich Miller's Capitol Fax - A bump up, but there is no silver medal in campaigns

Kirk Dillard campaign interview

Daily Herald - Endorsement of Dillard

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Other related pieces about Bruce Rauner by John Presta:

Bruce Rauner, GTCR linked to nursing home deaths and abuse, say multiple lawsuits

Bruce Rauner charter schools

Bruce Rauner campaign 'minimum wage' snafus

Bruce Rauner says lower Illinois minimum wage

Bruce Rauner raises $4 million

Bruce Rauner is the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics (Part 1)

Bruce Rauner is the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics (Part 2)

Bruce Rauner is the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics (Part 3)

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Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, johnpresta@att.net.

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