SPRINGFIELD | U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock’s decision to forgo a run for Illinois governor cut to four the number of Republicans publicly mulling a bid for the state’s top office in 2014.
The roster includes state Sens. Bill Brady of Bloomington and Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, both of whom ran in 2010, as well as state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and political newcomer Bruce Rauner.
On Friday, hours after Schock went public with his decision, the wannabe chief executives praised the three-term congressman from Peoria, but said his absence from the statewide race would have little effect on their planning.
Brady, who lost to Democrat Pat Quinn by 16,000 votes in 2010, said he may benefit from Schock’s decision based on polling data showing the two vying for some of the same voters in downstate Illinois.
Brady, a central Illinois real estate developer, also took a swipe at Rauner, a wealthy hedge fund manager from Chicago, who is raising and spending money in an attempt to gain traction in the early stages of the race.
“You can’t buy primaries in Illinois. You’ve got to earn them by traveling around the state,” Brady said. “People don’t know Bruce Rauner.”
Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said Rauner has attended 40 events as part of a “listening tour” he’s been on in recent weeks.
Schrimpf said Rauner is enjoying the campaign trail.
“He’s not your typical newcomer politician,” Schrimpf said. “He loves to ride his Harley. He loves to hunt and fish.”
Rutherford, serving his first term as treasurer, has been crisscrossing the state speaking at county-level GOP gatherings. On Friday, he had events in Peru, Whiteside County and Henry County.
Rutherford, of Chenoa, northeast of Bloomington, called Schock a “proven leader” and an “extreme talent” and said he plans to announce his plans early this summer.
“We can all be thankful that Congressman Schock will continue to serve in a prestigious and influential role in the U.S. Congress,” Rutherford said.
Dillard, who served as a top aide to former Gov. Jim Edgar, also has been traversing the state in a bid to reverse the outcome of the 2010 primary, which he lost to Brady by a mere 193 votes.
“I look forward to working with Congressman Schock to re-imagine what the reconstruction of Illinois can look like,” Dillard said.
As the lone suburban Republican, Dillard could benefit if Brady and Rutherford split the downstate vote.
“I like where I’m positioned," Dillard said. "The winning template for a Republican governor is to come from the suburbs but have strong downstate roots."
He is a Western Illinois University alum whose wife has ties to Elkhart, northeast of Springfield.
The Republican primary, however, may be overshadowed by the Democratic battle. Gov. Pat Quinn could be challenged by Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Former U.S. commerce secretary and White House chief of staff William Daley said he will announce his plans in the next two months.