A more subdued Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford showed up to a Tuesday debate in Naperville — his first public meeting with Bruce Rauner since accusing Rauner last week of trying to politically destroy him.
Even though they were positioned beside one another, the two men refrained from trading barbs.
Instead, the four candidates vying for the Illinois Republican governor nomination laid out their visions for bridging a geographically and politically divided state during an Illinois Manufacturers’ Association debate in Naperville. While the forum largely focused on business interests in the state, candidates discussed what they would do to handle the divide between Chicago and the rest of the state.
Rutherford said when Chicago doesn’t look good, it reflects “on every one of us” in Illinois.
“On Monday morning when you see the news or read your newspaper and you see how many African-American kids were shot over the weekend during the summertime, it reflects very poorly on us,” Rutherford said. “I intend to be one who works with the mayor of the City of Chicago to address those types of issues,” in particular how to put poor people back to work in the private sector, Rutherford said.
This was the first public forum since Rutherford held a news conference on Friday declaring that his opponent, Rauner, was trying to destroy him. Rutherford accused Rauner of being behind an allegation lodged by an employee in the treasurer’s office in which Rutherford said the employee’s attorney demanded $300,000 to make it go away. The employee resigned on Monday and the attorney accused Rutherford of turning something non-political into something political.
For his part, on unifying Chicago and the rest of the state, Rauner said he is unique in the race because he grew up in Lake County, built businesses in Cook County and his family had a ranch Downstate.
“I share the values with folks throughout our state,” Rauner said, “I’m going to move to Springfield, I’m going to live in the mansion and I’m going to get to know every voter I can possibly get to know.”
State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said he has passed a resolution to have Illinois’ two U.S. Senators require the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago “crack down on gun violence.”
“Yeah, we can put William Beavers in jail and spend millions of dollars prosecuting him while kids are still dying in the street,” Brady said of the former Cook County commissioner who was convicted of tax fraud. “We’ve got to demand that we use federal resources.”
Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, emphasized that he was not a regional candidate, citing his running mate’s Downstate roots and his DuPage County residence.
During the forum, both Rauner and Dillard said they would consider a tax on services in the state while Brady said the state should look to broaden its tax base — including to try once again to impose the so-called “Amazon tax” on certain digital sales.
Rutherford, however, said he opposed a tax on services.
“When government starts to be able to tax something new, they’re going to look for the next thing new after that,” he said.