Governor Bruce Rauner narrowly won a primary challenge from Republican State Representative Jeanne Ives in March, winning by just three points. But new campaign finance records filed Monday show that Rauner dramatically outspent Ives to pull off the razor-thin victory.
Rauner spent roughly $17.7 million during the first quarter of 2018, while Ives spent just $4.3 million. In other words, Rauner spent about four times more than Ives.
Rauner had the weakest primary showing of any incumbent Illinois Republican governor since 1928. “No elected governor from either party in the Prairie State has survived a narrower primary victory since the first such contest in 1908,” according to Dr. Eric Ostermeier with the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
A number of Republican state legislators were critical of Rauner’s spending, who wrote to Rauner during the campaign to ask him to stop using his fortune to run misleading ads, which they said contained “shameful distortions and fabrications of Jeanne Ives’ record.”
“He can’t defend his own policies, so he’s using deep campaign coffers to flood airwaves and mailboxes with bogus attacks,” the letter read.
The wounds of the primary have yet to heal: Ives is now refusing to endorse the governor in his campaign against Democratic nominee J.B. Pritzker. “I’m a Republican. I’ll vote for him, but I will not endorse him,” she said. “I will not campaign for him. … Maybe if he takes out a million-dollar ad buy and admits he lied about me, maybe we’ll talk.”