The Republican incumbent governor seeking re-election is putting on a strong face and remaining publicly confident despite recent polls showing him trailing his Democratic opponent by double digits.
With three weeks before final ballots are cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election, Gov. Bruce Rauner made a stop in Belleville at the Round Table Cafe to meet with restaurant patrons.
As one customer left the restaurant, she told Rauner “hang in there and fight that Madigan,” referring to House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Rauner was accompanied by state Rep. Jim Durkin, the Republican leader in the Illinois House, state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, and Republican candidate in the 113th District Doug Jameson.
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Rauner and Durkin kept the attack on Democrat J.B. Pritzker, bringing up his property tax issues in Chicago where Pritzker is now paying back $330,000 in property tax benefits he received after a mansion he owned had its toilets removed and was deemed uninhabitable. The inspector general called the removal of the toilets a “scheme to defraud taxpayers.”
“That’s stealing money from all of the people of Illinois, all of you. When his property taxes go down, Chicago schools have to get their money so the rest of us chip in through our income taxes to make up the difference. That’s fraud, that’s stealing.”
During his stop, Rauner said he had wanted to debate Pritzker in the metro-east on Tuesday, but the Pritzker campaign never committed.
Pritzker recently visited the metro-east to meet with campaign volunteers and to speak at the St. Clair County Democratic Central Committee annual dinner.
Despite being down in the polls, including a poll showing Pritzker leading 49 percent to 27 percent, Rauner remained confident, at least publicly.
“Those polls are absolutely wrong. Those are by registered voters. Democrats outnumber Republicans by a lot,” Rauner said. “When you look at who’s actually going to vote, we’re very close. This election is going to boil down to the people versus the corrupt political machine. We’re very confident we’re going to win. In the end, it’s not Democrats versus Republicans, it’s about who gets out to vote, to stand up against the corruption and the high taxes coming out of the Chicago political machine.”
Durkin also said Rauner’s numbers are improving and helping other Republicans.
Durkin said the GOP is competitive against metro-east incumbents Jerry Costello II, being challenged by David Friess; Monica Bristow being challenged by Mike Babcock; and Katie Stuart being challenged by Dwight Kay.
“Our races are very competitive,” Durkin said. “Our numbers keep improving and the governor’s numbers are improving as well. We’re happy the way things are going.”