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Rauner, Pritzker make final pitches as election winds down

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is making his final push during the last days leading up to the election.
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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is making his final push during the last days leading up to the election.

As the 2018 election season is in its final days the leading gubernatorial candidates, Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner and his Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker, are making their final pitches to voters across the state and in the metro-east.

Pritzker was in East St. Louis on Wednesday for a campaign event with former vice president Joe Biden and 12th Congressional District candidate Brendan Kelly.

Also on the ballot for governor is Libertarian Kash Jackson and Conservative Sam McCann.

Rauner, who continues to show confidence, is speaking with media during a nine-day bus tour, which included a stop at the Belleville News-Democrat on Friday morning followed by a get out the vote rally in Harrisburg. Other stops are planned in Marion, Carbondale, DuQuoin and Springfield during this part of the tour.

Rauner described what he thinks a second term for him would look like during his visit to the BND.

“We’ll build upon the successes of the first term, and hopefully get even more done in the second term. Obviously there’s so much more to do. We’ve got to get term limits done. And now Democrats joined me. They’ve called for term limits on legislative leaders, calling on terms limits on more elected offices.

He said, he thinks he could get pension reform done and he plans to push for a capital bill in Illinois.

“I would like to have a major infrastructure program,” Rauner said. “We’re the transportation hub of the U.S. We have under invested in our infrastructure for decades, in Illinois and I like to get a major infrastructure bill done on a bipartisan basis, and I think we’ll get it done quickly, with no new taxes to pay for it. We’ll pay for it through a balanced budget, where infrastructure is prioritized, we’ll get more money from the federal government where Elaine Chao, the U.S. Transportation secretary is good friend of mine, and she has already given us the largest grants for transportation.”

Rauner also attacked Pritzker, saying he would is just part of the Chicago machine.

“If Pritzker got in, turn out the lights, they would gerrymander the districts, after the 2020 census … two party democracy would basically be wiped away,” Rauner said. “We’ll have one party rule, with one individual, Madigan, in charge out of the corrupt Chicago political machine.”

During a media availability on Wednesday, Pritzker attacked Rauner’s record.

“First we’ve got to balance the budget of the state,” Pritzker said. “Under Bruce Rauner he was unwilling to consider balancing the budget. In fact for two years we went without a budget. He racked up $16 billion of unpaid bills, a billion dollars of late payment fees that the taxpayers now owe because of his failings, and we fell eight credit ratings during just Bruce Rauner’s four years in office. He’s the biggest deficit spender in the history of the state. We’ve got to focus on balancing the budget and that means looking both at revenues as well as growing the economy which is the best way of bringing revenue into the state. And then we’ve got to bring efficiency into state government. All those things together help us balance the budget.”

On Wednesday Juliana Stratton, Pritzker’s lieutenant governor nominee, also defended the campaign’s treatment of minorities as some staffers have alleged racial discrimination by the campaign.

“Our staff is diverse. We’re proud of the team we’ve built,” Stratton said. “Our staff consists of 45 percent of people of color, our senior team is over 50 percent African American. We’re really focused on these next six days and making sure the team we have built around our state and every community comes out and does what we have to do to make sure we’re victorious and start the real work of turning our state around.”

Both Rauner and Pritzker have spent more than a hundred million dollars of their personal fortunes to run for the governor’s office and to help other candidates in the state in their respective parties.

“This is my way to give back and try to save the state,” Rauner said. “We’ve made progress … but we’ve got a long way to go. What we can’t do is give up. I’ll never give up. None of us should ever give up on our state.”

Pritzker said his spending is about helping other Democrats.

“I’m trying to elect Democrats up and down the ticket that’s what this has been about,” Pritzker said. “You know we’ve invested in the infrastructure that gets voters out to vote. That’s why Brendan Kelly is going to win in Southern Illinois and that’s why we’re going to elect more Democrats to county boards across the state including in central and Southern Illinois than ever before.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter
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