Illinois GOP primary a ‘tossup’ between ‘disaster’ Governor and conservative challenger

Thomas Phippen, DCNF

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is tied in the primary race with conservative challenger state Rep. Jeanne Ives, according to a campaign consultant.

Two separate polls Monday evening showed Rauner down one point to Ives, and tied in the race for the Republican nomination, according to one GOP consultant who has seen polling for the past few days.

The Tuesday primary election is a “pure tossup right now, probably leaning toward Ives,” the consultant told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Rauner is already considered a vulnerable Republican governor headed into the race against the Democratic candidate in November.

Whoever wins the GOP primary will face off against J.B. Pritzker, the billionaire descendant of the Hyatt Hotels founder who is leading in some polls, state Sen. Daniel Biss, or developer Chris Kennedy, the sone of former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Rauner has served as governor since 2015 after he unseated incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn. Rauner has never been popular in conservative circles, but Ives’ had been a dark horse for much of the primary campaign.

One break came after Ives made headlines for an ad against Rauner. That ad was paid for by secretive conservative donor Richard Uihlein, who switched his support from Rauner and donated $2.5 million to Ives’ campaign in January alone, according to Politico.

Conservative publication National Review endorsed Ives a week before the primary campaign March 16, saying Rauner “has failed to deliver on his promises even after Republicans picked up enough seats in 2016 to sustain a veto.”

Should Ives triumph in the primary, it would mean Ives would face a tough challenge from Democrats. The Democratic Governor’s Association has already released an attack ad against Ives, calling her a “true conservative” — a phrase that Rauner took as a slight against himself.

“What they’re doing in the Democratic Governors Association is trying to get primary voters to vote for Ives,” Rauner said after the ad was released.

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