SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — For months, Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford has been hinting — at times not so subtly — that he wants the Republican nomination in the 2014 governor’s race. Come this weekend, he’ll finally make it official.
The former longtime state lawmaker told The Associated Press on Thursday that he planned to make his announcement Sunday, the same day he launches a three-day statewide tour to spread his message. He has planned stops in Chicago, Springfield, Pontiac, Rockford and Kankakee, among other places.
“We’ve seen one party at the levers of power for this state for a long time,” he told the AP. “And it’s not going so well.”
He cited the state’s disastrous finances, including billions in unpaid bills and unprecedented pension debt that’s prompted credit rating agencies to give Illinois the lowest credit rating of any state in the nation. His announcement will come as lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the summer after attempting to tackle the nearly $100 billion pension problem.
Rutherford, 58, is likely to face a crowded field of GOP contenders. Those who’ve expressed interest are state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.
Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has said he will seek re-election in 2014, but he also could face challenges from within his own party. Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also are considering runs.
Rutherford, a Pontiac native, said his experience in the private and public sectors make him qualified and so far, he is the only Republican who’s already won a statewide office who will run. He was elected treasurer in 2010 and served as a state representative and state senator for years. Before entering politics he was an executive with Service Master Co, based in suburban Downers Grove.
“I do have government experience, but I’m not a career politician,” he said. “I’m the only Republican that has won statewide that is looking to run for governor. I’m the guy to win.”
Rutherford seeks office at a rocky time for the Illinois GOP.
Since suffering major losses in November, members of the party have faced an identity crisis. Earlier this month Pat Brady resigned as chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. He cited personal reasons but was under attack by conservatives who didn’t like his public support of same-sex marriage. Republicans could choose a new state party chairman as early as Saturday.
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