CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Bruce Rauner formally announced his bid for re-election on Monday, repeating familiar themes from his 2014 campaign, and his longstanding feud with Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Rauner’s two-minute ad features the leather-clad governor riding around the state on his motorcycle, talking about why he believes the state is worth fighting for.
“This is home. Four years ago, I criss-crossed our state, looked people in the eye, and promised to fight business as usual,” he said. “We can throw in the towel, walk away, and leave our future to the same corrupt career politicians, or we can fight. I choose to fight.”
In an interview Monday morning, Rauner hit on some of his main talking points from his first term in office, saying he’s trying to save Illinois “from a corrupt machine that’s been taking us down the drain for more than 33 years.”
“Speaker Madigan has got complete control of everything. He has blocked term limits, he has blocked property tax relief, and he put a massive income tax hike on the people of Illinois in June with no reforms,” he said.
Madigan has been the most frequent target of Rauner’s criticisms and campaign ads. However, if Rauner survives a possible challenge from within his own party, he would face one of seven Democrats running for governor.
With billionaire J.B. Pritzker leading the race in the Democratic primary, the 2018 election could be the most expensive race for governor on record.
Rauner already has given $50 million from his own fortune to his campaign.
Facing an opponent with even deeper pockets in Pritzker, the race is expected to far surpass the record-breaking campaign spending of Rauner’s successful 2014 bid. Four years ago, candidates spent more than $100 million combined in the race for governor.
Pritzker is one of the world’s richest men, and thus far has outspent, out raised, and outpolled a crowded pack of Democrats running for governor, including millionaire Chris Kennedy – the son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of John F. Kennedy.
Others running for the chance to challenge Rauner include state Sen. Daniel Biss, Madison County school superintendent Bob Daiber, activist Tio Hardiman, Vernon Hills business owner Alex Paterakis, and Burr Ridge doctor Robert Marshall.
The governor might face a challenge within his own party.
Several Republicans have been weighing bids for governor, angered by Rauner’s decision to sign legislation allowing for state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions despite an earlier pledge to veto the bill. Outspoken conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) has voiced interest in running against Rauner.