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Money will not be an issue for Governor Pat Quinn in race against Bruce Rauner

Illinois Pat Quinn
Illinois Pat Quinn
Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

In the Primary Election, GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner had more campaign cash available than all of his challengers - combined. That won’t be the case in the General Election because yesterday’s Illinois State Board of Elections campaign fund filings revealed that Governor Pat Quinn can financially go toe-to-toe with Rauner.

To-date, Rauner has raised $25.6 in his gubernatorial bid, with $6.6 million of that coming from Rauner’s own pocket. Quinn, who has the advantage of courting donors for decades, has raised $13.6 for this race. But, the most important numbers are what do they have in the bank right now. Rauner currently has $3.5 million in his campaign chest. The eye opener is that Quinn has $11.6 million in his.

The reason why is that Rauner started as an unknown when he beat Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford and State Senators Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady in the Primary Election and had to spend a lot on raising his name recognition with voters. Quinn essentially wasn’t challenged in the Primary Election and was able to sit on campaign cash.

Rauner is now trying to put heavy pressure on Quinn through television ads and spent $5.9 million between April and June to help do that. Quinn only spent less than a $1 million during the same period, thus the difference in the bank accounts. It is hard to tell if either one will have a particular advantage during the final stretch because Rauner can tap wealthy friends such as Kenneth Griffin who has donated $3.6 million so far, while Quinn will get ample support from unions (who don’t care for Quinn but despise Rauner) and national Democratic PAC’s that want to keep one of their own running Illinois (and not having the embarrassment of the governorship of President Barack Obama’s home state go to the other team).

The money in this race is historic because this is not a traditional campaign. Per Illinois campaign law, donations to a candidate are limited to:

  • $5,300 from individuals;
  • $10,500 from corporations, unions or associations; and
  • $52,600 from a political action committee or candidate political committee.

The exception is if a candidate in a race self-funds $250,000. Rauner did that very early in his campaign, essentially did it 25 more times and is still going.

The record for fundraising in an Illinois gubernatorial race was in 2006 which ended in Rod Blagojevich defeating current Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Total spending in that campaign was $29.6 million, thus the Rauner/Quinn race will best that by a lot.

So, as this campaign drags on, raising cash will not be an issue for either candidate. But will so much money be a sign of bad things to come for Illinois. The old record for a single Illinois gubernatorial candidate was $22 million raised by Blagojevich in 2006 election and everyone knows how that turned out.