It didn’t take long for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner to cash in on a new feature he’s brought to the 2014 governor’s race.
Rauner, a super-wealthy Winnetka businessman, blew the cap on campaign contributions earlier this month when he gave himself $500,000 to help pay for a new series of television ads.
Under state campaign finance laws, donors can typically only give candidates a total of $5,300. Political action committees can give a total of $52,600.
But if a candidate gives himself more than $250,000, the caps are removed for all of the candidates seeking that particular office, including fellow Republicans Bill Brady of Bloomington, Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and Dan Rutherford of Chenoa.
As of Friday, Rauner was the only one to benefit thus far from the lack of caps. In addition to his own $500,000, retired Chicago businesswoman Elizabeth Christie wrote Rauner a $100,000 check. He also received $20,000 from Edgar Bachrach of Chicago.
Christie and Bachrach are board members of the Illinois Policy Institute, a GOP-leaning lobbying organization that bills itself as a free market think tank. Rauner recently acknowledged giving the group $500,000.
Rauner also received $250,000 contributions from Chicago investor Ken Griffin and Glen Tullman of Wilmette. Tullman, who ran an electronic health records company, has typically given cash to Democrats. In the 2010 race, Tullman contributed about $42,000 to Pat Quinn. Griffin gave money to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Rauner’s decision to self-fund at this stage of the race is an attempt to try and start moving his poll numbers upward. Despite spending more than anyone else in the field, polls show Rauner remains mired in fourth place out of four.
The lightest fundraiser of all, Brady, has been atop most of the polls.
It is well to remember that Brady won a seven-way GOP primary in 2010 with just over 20 percent of the vote. The winner in 2014 has to eclipse the 25 percent mark.
So you know, the lack of fundraising limits isn’t limited to the GOP side.
It also lifts the caps on Quinn, who already has $3 million in his campaign fund and no significant competition during the primary.
-- NEW TREASURER
Rauner also shook up his campaign finance team last week by bringing in a new treasurer from out of state.
Paul Kilgore, of Georgia-based Professional Data Services Inc., manages the finances of a number of congressmen and U.S. senators. His other Illinois clients include U.S. Reps. Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.
-- THE SENATE RACE
The milkman is back.
Suburban Chicago dairy magnate Jim Oberweis last week said he had surpassed the number of signatures he needs to get on the ballot to make another run for U.S. Senate.
If he wins the GOP primary against a lesser known opponent, Oberweis will lead the ticket in November.
If all this sounds somewhat familiar, it is.
He lost primary races for the U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2004.
In 2004, the GOP winner, Jack Ryan, left the race because of a sex scandal. But party leaders were so leery of Oberweis as a party standard bearer, they instead imported Maryland firebrand Alan Keyes to run.
Keyes was then pummeled by some guy named Barack Obama.
Since then, Oberweis set his sights a little lower and won a seat in the Illinois Senate. He can run for the U.S. Senate and not give up his seat in the Statehouse because his state term doesn’t end until 2016.
The other Republican in the race is political novice Doug Truax, a 43-year-old West Point grad from Downers Grove.
-- GAY MARRIAGE
The festive atmosphere surrounding Quinn’s Wednesday signing of the state’s new gay marriage law drew only one Republican to the podium – Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
She made it a point to note that it took both parties to get the measure into law, singling out the GOP members of the House who voted “yes,” as well as the lone Republican member of the state Senate to support the measure – Jason Barickman, of Bloomington.
Topinka also inserted one of her trademark wisecracks as she was leaving the stage.
“I am available to be a flower girl and I’ll even waive the fee,” she told the cheering crowd.
The new law, which makes Illinois the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage, goes into effect June 1.