New Trier GOP disses Gov. Rauner, issues "no endorsement"
Gov. Bruce Rauner's own local Republican organization will not endorse him for re-election.
The New Trier Township Republican Organization (NTRO) includes Rauner's north suburban hometown of Winnetka as well as Wilmette, Glencoe and Kenilworth. It officially declined to endorse after voting during a meeting on Saturday morning, just blocks from Rauner's home.
"It is extraordinarily rare for a regular Republican organization to fail to endorse an incumbent governor, let alone the incumbent's local organization," said Wilmette resident Jasmine Hauser, who attended the meeting.
NTRO is by and large comprised of members who are ideologically more similar to Rauner, Hauser said.
Rauner is facing a challenge from conservative reform State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).
Blair Garber, Evanston Township Republican Committeeman and a Rauner-appointee to the Illinois Lottery Control Board, spoke in support of Rauner.
He said NTRO should back Rauner because "his money" can help Republicans re-claim control of the Illinois House from Democrats and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago).
"There's nobody who can do this but Bruce," he said. "The guy doesn't need this. He's put in $100 million of his own dollars."
He said that Rauner is running agencies "professionally" with staff "who know how to read a balance sheet."
Kathleen Murphy, communications director for Rep. Ives, countered that the GOP primary election is, in part, a referendum on Rauner's dishonesty.
"This is about character," Murphy said.
No matter how you feel about abortion, Murphy said, "House Bill 40 (taxpayer funding of abortion) was a massive expansion of government in a state that was bankrupt" as well as "going back on a promise to both Republican caucuses that he would veto that bill" as well as to Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.
"I really just have one question. Are you proud? I know I'm in Rauner territory, but are you proud of what he has done as governor?
"Are you proud of the campaign he is running against Jeanne Ives?," Murphy asked, referencing Rauner's television ads that suggest Ives is working with House Speaker Michael Madigan, which have been criticized widely as dishonest and misleading by political journalists across the state.
"Everyone who pays attention to state politics in Illinois has called (the ads) out as a complete lie," Murphy said.
She added that Rauner has been incompetent in his management of state government as well as politically.
Murphy criticized Rauner for supporting a "crony capitalist" taxpayer bailout of Exelon and said "he showed no leadership and publicly removed himself from the debate" over the 32 percent state income tax increase, allowing Republicans to vote for it so it would pass.
To earn the NTRO endorsement, either Rauner or Ives would have had to earn 65 percent of the organization's vote. This is a change from past statewide elections, when a majority of the vote was enough.
In 2014, GOP candidate for State Treasurer Tom Cross won the NTRO endorsement with 60 percent of the vote.
NTRO Chairman Kathy Myalls, who Rauner supported financially in her 2014 challenge to State Rep. Laura Fine (D-Evanston), told organization members that the 65 percent threshold was set for the 2018 cycle as part of a newly-established set of bylaws.