Somebody’s going to pick up votes eroding from Dan Rutherford’s campaign for the Republican nomination for governor. The question is just who? I think it’s not front-runner Bruce Rauner. In fact, I think some of the grime from accusations against Rutherford is sticking to Rauner and the race for the GOP nomination is tightening.
Let’s state the obvious: Rutherford’s run is in serious trouble. Accused by a former top treasurer’s office employee of forcing him to do political work and sexually harassing him, Rutherford fervently denies all the charges. And he maintains Rauner is behind the federal lawsuit filed this week, complete with salacious detail, its timing suspect. Rauner says that’s “ridiculous.” But even if Rauner is responsible, it doesn’t necessarily mean accusations against Treasurer Rutherford are unfounded.
That’s why some Republicans are steering away from Rutherford, still smarting from a decade ago when Jack Ryan, their nominee for U.S. Senate against Barack Obama, withdrew from the race, not long before the fall election, when disturbing details about Ryan’s private life became public. Even if a pending investigation quickly and totally vindicates Rutherford, he’ll have lost precious time and momentum, his message eclipsed by having to face down his accuser. And no matter what, the “he said/he said” allegations don’t sit well with many GOP regulars who turn out for primaries. Rutherford will need something close to a miracle.
Meanwhile, you don’t have to scratch very deep to find GOP faithful getting a little nervous about nominating Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist who has never held public office, tilts left on social issues, has befriended and supported Democrats, waffled on the minimum wage and now is getting beaten up in advertising purchased by groups from opposing sides of the political spectrum that don’t want him on the November ballot. And there’s this question of whether he’s linked to the lawsuit.
What’s not so clear is whether Republicans, desperately eager to turn Gov. Quinn out of office, will look to one of the other two candidates, Bill Brady of Bloomington or Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale. Brady has name recognition, having narrowly lost to Quinn four years ago. Dillard is from the collar counties where lots of Republicans reside. I’m thinking it’s anybody’s race.
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Given Justin Bieber’s recent run-ins with the law, I suspect there are those at Normal’s Epiphany Catholic School secretly happy he never made good on a visit to the Twin Cities after some Epiphany students won a charity fundraising contest … Wondering how much headwork is underway inside the walls of State Farm and Country Companies about driverless cars and their potential impact on the cash flow coming from collision insurance … robots don’t get distracted, drowsy or drunk … still not sure, though, if I’m ready to put my grandchild in a driverless car to be delivered to and from music lessons … Searching for an upside to the extreme cold, I asked University of Illinois entomologist Philip Nixon whether the frigid temps might curtail this year’s insect pest population … no, he says, because snow cover and occasional warm-ups like we’re experiencing now have kept the ground from freezing very deeply … Glad to see the snow melt, though … it’s been hard to see around snowbanks at some intersections … Is there any chance at all the hokey-pokey really is what it’s all about?
Vogel, of Bloomington, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.