Illinois has a budget, in spite of the desires of Gov Rauner. He vetoed the first budget passed in his term, in June of 2015. There really wasn’t a budget passed in 2016 — just a temporary funding bill.
Then in the summer of 2017. the governor again vetoed the budget, which contained an income tax increase from 3.75% to 3.95%. But the governor’s veto of the FY 2018 budget was overridden as 15 House Republicans voted with Democrats to override the veto of the budget.
In response, the Governor sought to replace those Republicans that dared to vote against his veto of the budget. Before the vote, Rauner promised to run well-funded primary candidates against those who voted with the Democrats. It was no doubt a promise which kept even more Republican House members from voting to finally pass a budget. But that approach by the Governor, in dealing with members of the Republican party, is one reason why — behind the scenes — the governor is privately detested in some Republican circles — perhaps even more so than he is by Democrats.
Republican lawmakers say privately they’ve had enough of Gov Rauner’s “my way or the highway” approach to governing, and his attitude that Republican lawmakers had better follow his dictates or face retribution. After all it is they, the veteran House members, who bring to issues years of experience in governing, which compares to the governor’s lack of experience in getting things done in Springfield.
So what became of the House 15 who drew the Republican Governor’s ire — and how did they fair in the 2018 primary?
RESULTS OF THOSE WHO WERE CHALLENGED IN THE 2018 PRIMARY
Rep David Reis, (109th Dist): Reis was first elected in 2004.
On Tuesday, Reis LOST his primary to Darren Bailey (R) by approx 2,300 votes out of 17,000 cast, or just 43% of the vote
Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, 108th Dist: Meier handily WON his primary race by approx 5,000 votes in a race with nearly 12,000 votes cast
Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, 115th Dist: Bryant WON her primary by around 900 votes where 7,800 were cast.
C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, 100th Dist: Easily WON re-nomination with 75% of the vote
Michael Unes, R-East Peoria, 91st Dist: Unes was THE ONLY House member to vote against the governor’s veto, that did not draw a primary opponent, nor retire.
Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, 93rd Dist: Hammond WON her nomination with close to 54% of the vote
Then, there were those who decided they had enough and didn’t run again.
WHO DECIDED TO NOT RUN AGAIN
Rep Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (99th Dist), who was once the Chief of Staff to First Lady Diana Rauner, and then selected to fill a vacant House seat — decided against running again.
John Cavaletto, R-Salem, 107th District
Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, 101st District
Reginald Phillips, R-Charleston, 110th District
Chad Hays, R-Catlin, 104th District
Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, 70th District
Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, 49th District
David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, 53rd District
So ONLY ONE of the 15 House Republicans who voted to override the Governor’s veto, was defeated in the primary, while eight decided not to run again. Was that to avoid a costly primary fight? Perhaps it was a factor in Chad Hays decision, with Rep Phillips and Sara Jimenez. But the majority of those who left had held office for years and were looking to move on.
There’s a remaining legacy to the Governor’s decision to run primary candidates against those that seek re-election – He’s made enemies when he now needs allies. Governor Rauner’s approach to governing has not only failed to produce results — he’s alienated many Republicans in the legislature, and very likely – their supporters.
And at the time when Republicans would need to win nine seats to take back control of the House, it becomes even more difficult to do that, when you’re going into a campaign season having lost so many of your seasoned incumbents.
Then there’s the governor’s own run for re-election, in which he now faces an opponent in Mr Pritzker that’s even wealthier than the governor. So Gov Rauner’s ability to attempt to win by outspending his opposition by huge margins is no longer applicable.
What we did see on Tuesday night, was a very split Republican party, in which Rep Jeanne Ives, decided to challenge the governor despite his name recognition, his being the leader of her party, and his having millions to spend — and yet she came within 21,000 votes or so of defeating him, out of approximately 660,000 votes cast.
So the divisions within the Republican Party that the governor’s style has helped to create — or at least exacerbate — are on full display as we move past the Primary Election, and into a general election cycle that shows virtually no reason for Republicans to be optimistic about what awaits them in the fall. Yes, things can change. But what is true as Republicans begin their fall campaign, is that the party’s foundation is badly cracked.
What Republicans do have is a billionaire willing to spend heavily.
But now, Democrats have that weapon as well.