Illinois Statehouse News | Analysis

Nothing is 'official' until candidate filing begins

2013-12-02T00:00:00Z Nothing is 'official' until candidate filing beginsKurt Erickson, Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
December 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

This week marked the annual rite of election season in which candidates running in the March primary line up in front of the Illinois State Board of Elections to file their nominating petitions.

If the signatures they’ve collected pass muster, their names will go on the ballot.

This year’s version, which started early Monday morning, was marked as much by who was there to file as who wasn’t there to file.

There was no Bill Daley standing in line. Remember him? It was just yesterday that President Obama’s former chief of staff was ready to run against Gov. Pat Quinn in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Similarly, Attorney General Lisa Madigan did not file to run for governor, as has been expected for years.

In turn, neither Tom Cross nor Sheila Simon filed to run for attorney general, given that neither wanted to go up against Madigan.

Cross, the former minority leader in the House filed to run for treasurer. Simon, the current lieutenant governor, is running for comptroller.

It is a good thing to remember this when you read that a candidate has “officially” announced his or her candidacy in the summer months before an election.

Nothing is really “official” until their name is on the ballot.

BIG BUCKS

You’ve got to hand it to Bruce Rauner’s campaign team when it came to the timing of the release of his finances last week.

Not only did he beat his opponents to the punch before they could make too much of an issue about his wealth, but Monday’s disclosure came on the same day much of the focus was on candidates filing their nominating petitions for the 2014 primary election.

It also came on a week when voters were paying more attention to turkey, shopping and watching football.

Despite the smart politics of the move, it will be very hard to bury Rauner’s income history.

Rauner, who is among four candidates seeking the GOP nomination for governor in March, reported making $53 million in 2012, up from $28 million the year before.

What’s more, none of the money came from wages. Rather, he collected all that cash from interest on his investments. He’s letting his money do the work while he tries to beat state Sens. Bill Brady, of Bloomington, and Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford in the gubernatorial primary.

In what could only be viewed as a strong message to his poorer opponents, the hedge fund manager from Winnetka then wrote his campaign another $500,000 check, bringing the total amount he’s dumped into his bid to nearly $1.3 million.

It made for some easy soundbites from his opponents.

“No one has ever taken as much out of state and special interest money or is about to spend as much of their own money as Bruce Rauner and that just should not be tolerated by the people of Illinois,” Dillard said.

LOTS OF DOUGH

There’s a lot you can do with $53 million. For perspective purposes, let’s look at what Rauner’s annual earnings could buy in state government.

The state’s share of Eastern Illinois University’s budget this year, for example, is about $44 million.

Rauner could simply fund EIU and then scrape by on the remaining $9 million in his bank account.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

There has been a lot of moving between offices in the Capitol in the wake of the completion of a $50 million remodeling job.

That has resulted in people finding boxes and files filled with things that probably should have been thrown away long ago.

Like a press release from 1996 that recently found its way to my desk.

That year, the Democratic Party of Illinois took sides in the fight between two men vying to become the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate.

Just days before voters went to the polls, party chairman Gary LaPaille held a news conference to tout candidate Dick Durbin as the party’s chosen candidate.

And they trashed his opponent by issuing a Top 10 list of what they called “hypocrisies.”

“How can he claim to be an 'outsider' when all he does is run for office?” LaPaille said.

Durbin went on to win the primary and the general election. The loser of that race and the subject of the chiding was none other than Pat Quinn.

The opinions are the writer's. Kurt Erickson is the Lee Springfield bureau chief. He can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or (217) 782-4043.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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