SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Republicans who gained ground in the Illinois General Assembly two years ago with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s financial help face a tougher go of it this year.

Rauner and his top contributors poured more than $40 million into legislative races in 2016.

The GOP picked up seats in the House and Senate. Rauner hoped for further gains in 2018. But he’s struggling in a re-election bid against Democrat J.B. Pritzker.

Elections expert Kent Redfield of the University of Illinois at Springfield says Rauner has given nearly $14 million to state races this year. But billionaire Pritzker’s $7.5 million for Democrats offsets that.

The GOP is on the offensive in southern Illinois where President Donald Trump remains popular. Democrats are defending seats in suburban Chicago but making a play for some traditionally Republican posts, too.

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