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Focus of 2014 campaign shifts to Republicans

Published: Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – The drama in the 2014 campaign for Illinois’ statewide offices shifted substantially after the withdrawal of former White House chief of staff Bill Daley from the Democratic primary for governor.

The focus on the state’s top job now switches to the Republican side, where a four-way primary again threatens to split the GOP’s main voting blocs. The field will not be finalized until a Dec. 2 deadline for candidates to file petitions with the state. Here’s a scorecard of where the races stand:

GOVERNOR/DEMOCRATS

Daley’s surprise exodus irked some fellow Democrats. They fear he waited too long to allow for another strong challenger to Quinn, who faces low public approval ratings and no end of challenges. Quinn was formally endorsed for governor by the state Democratic party during a slating event Sunday in Springfield.

The only other announced primary candidate is Tio Hardiman, former director of a Chicago anti-violence group, who is little known outside the city and has a minimally funded campaign. Two pols who previously ruled out a run, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and state Sen. Kwame Raoul, say they are not reconsidering.

GOVERNOR/REPUBLICANS

Three longtime lawmakers and one billionaire “outsider” comprise the GOP field.

State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and fellow Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale are making their second bids. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa and Winnetka venture capitalist Bruce Rauner also jumped in. Despite vigorous campaigning, political analyst Don Rose said the race is anybody’s game.

TREASURER

The contest for the job of investing Illinois’ money is wide open after Rutherford declared his pursuit of the governor’s office.

On the Republican side, the outgoing House minority leader, Tom Cross, says his background as a suburban Chicago prosecutor and with state budgeting will be assets. DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan says his experience as an accountant makes him even more qualified. A third GOP contender, Michael Baker, is a political economist and navy veteran from Chicago.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Mike Frerichs of Champaign is so far unopposed.

COMPTROLLER

The race for the job of paying Illinois’ bills could ultimately be an interesting contest between two well-known names in Illinois. But neither Republican incumbent Judy Baar Topinka nor Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon are being challenged in their respective primaries for the job at this point.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

To date, no big-name Republican has stepped up to announce a run against Madigan, a 10-year incumbent with one of the biggest war chests in Illinois.

One Republican registered to fund raise is Paul Schimpf, a retired Marine Corps veteran and attorney from Waterloo who says he is “increasingly frustrated by the failure of our political class to address the problems facing our state.”

SECRETARY OF STATE

Equally scarce is either a Democrat or Republican who wants to run against Secretary of State Jesse White, a Democrat who launched a bid for a fifth term, despite once saying that his fourth term would be his last. White won by large margins in both 2006 and 2010, and has nearly $500,000 in his campaign fund.

Dorgan said the party is currently having internal conversations about possible contenders. The GOP strategy, he said, will be highlighting how the office needs to improve.

“When’s the last time you had a pleasurable experience at the secretary of state’s office?” Dorgan quipped.

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Associated Press writers Sophia Tareen and Sara Burnett contributed from Chicago.

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