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Look for these themes in the post-Labor Quinn vs Rauner race

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EXAMINER: Look for these themes in the post-Labor Day Quinn vs. Rauner race

Because of the huge sums of campaign money available to both candidates, one would have thought that the Illinois gubernatorial race between Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner was merely days away – in July. Even though both candidates have pelted the airwaves and each other all summer long, the action doesn’t really get started now - after Labor Day. It marks the start of a nine week push to see who will be the CEO of the Land of Lincoln.

Although Illinois Statehouse insiders have been following this contest in microscopic detail for months, most voters really don’t focus until after Labor Day, when vacations are over and the kids return to school. So for those just getting into this thing, here are the key themes and topics to watch:

NRI

That stands for the $54.5 million 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative that was developed to help abate the soaring youth violence in Chicago. This is Governor Quinn’s albatross. Even though the problem was very real, the administration of the program is being investigated at the federal level and by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. There is also an Illinois General Assembly probe that is infused with political agendas.

Odds are none of them will be completed before the election, so Quinn just has to grind through this as Rauner mentions it as much as possible. Quinn’s best counter may be talking about how he disbanded the program and point out as many any positive stories as can be found of helping the targeted youth participants. It may not be much, but, it’s something.

CAYMAN ISLANDS

The Cayman Islands is a famed tourism destination and for some an infamous destination to “shelter” income from U.S. taxation. It is also a problem for Bruce Rauner. He has financial holdings in the Cayman Islands and Pat Quinn will try to make sure that voters know what that means. Avoiding paying your fair share of taxes is frowned upon by a lot of voters, although some think that trying to pay a little as possible, within the rules, is legit. If the Quinn forces can help voters understand that this is only available to the elite, it may help trim some votes from Rauner.

TERM LIMITS

The Rauner camp found out early that term limits resonates very high with voters. He made the process of putting the issue on the ballot as an unbinding referendum a focal point of his campaign. It was also a way for him to meet people all over the state and to raise his name recognition with voters.

But, it was thrown out by the courts. However, the issue is still good for Rauner. He will continue to raise this issue throughout the campaign. Even though Governor Quinn has pledged that this is his last election, win or lose, Rauner will pound the message that Quinn (and Michael Madigan) denied voters term limits.

There is a lot of stuff to watch in this election. So much so that this column is divided into two parts. In the second installment, the issues of Quinn/Blagojevich/Madigan, Nursing Homes & Private Equity, the Economy and The Truth (or a version of it) will be explored.

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