My Picks for the Illinois Republican Primary

Tuesday is the Illinois primary election (an early one among the states), and there are several competitive primaries.  Here are my picks.

Politician Collage1

Governor

I choose Bruce Rauner as the Republican gubernatorial candidate.  At first, I was skeptical about his candidacy, primarily because I didn’t know how he lined up with my values.  He came into the race unknown and untested.  He’s never held elected office before.  He’s spent his life in finance, being a partner in a very successful investment firm.  He’s the candidate in the race that’s raised the most money ($4M in the last quarter of 2013, vs. his nearest competitor raising $393K).  Last week, I watched a 45-minute townhall meeting with Rauner posted online (you can watch it here if you want), and I was impressed with several things:

  • He had a good grasp of the issues.
  • He was a polished speaker, and has a certain amount of charisma (which I think a good candidate should have).
  • He was direct in his answers about every issue, and didn’t try to duck issues.
  • He’s been a leader throughout his life.
  • He’s already involved in many issues that he’s passionate about (inner city education, for one).
  • He’s humble enough to know that he doesn’t know everything about elections or about governing.  He’s being mentored by Mitch Daniels (former governor of Indiana) and Scott Walker (current governor of Wisconsin) about issues of strategy and governance.
  • He convinced me that he shared my values on every issue, including social issues.

For these reasons, I think that Bruce Rauner will make a good candidate for governor.

Senate

For the Senate primary race (for the person who will challenge Senator Dick Durbin), I choose Doug Truax.  Doug is another newbie to politics, and an underdog in his primary race against perennial candidate Jim Oberweis.  Doug is a graduate of the Military Academy at Anapolis, and a former Army Ranger.  He also is a co-owner of a strategic risk consulting firm.

Though I think that Jim Oberweis is probably a good man, he only seems to be running for office to build power.  It seems like he’s run for every other office in the state, and only recently got into the state Senate.  An article in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune sealed the decision in my mind: “Oberweis isn’t ready to face Durbin.”  He doesn’t present himself well, and he blames his absence from the campaign trail on his wife.

11th Congressional District

This race is a 4-way race in a bid to replace Rep. Bill Foster in the 11th District, which spans part or all of Aurora, Bolingbrook, Darien, Joliet, Montgomery, Naperville, New Lenox, Shorewood, and Woodridge.  It’s a tough district for a Republican (Foster won 58% of the vote in 2012), but it’s a promising district for the right candidate.  I believe that candidate should be Darlene Senger.

Bill Foster is an eminently beatable candidate in 2014.  He voted for Obamacare, which is deeply unpopular everywhere, and was summarily thrown out of office when he ran for reelection in 2010 in the 14th congressional district against Rep. Randy Hultgren.  Then, he was drawn a brand-new district in which to run by the Democrats in Springfield, and did well against Judy Biggert in a Democrat wave year in 2012.  He’s a fair-to-middling candidate that can be beat this year by the right candidate.

Darlene Senger is a 3-term state representative who has served many people in the 11th congressional district already.  She has a great experience advantage over her main primary opponent, Bert Miller, a businessman and political novice.  While Miller may do well in the race, I think Senger is a better bet.  She’s been campaigning for months, and has a strong campaign.  She closely shares my values (morality matters, spending and debt need to be addressed, regulations should be reformed, and the healthcare law needs a major overhaul), and I think she’ll be a formidable candidate to challenge Bill Foster.

Treasurer

A lesser-known race, but no less important, is the race for Illinois Treasurer.  I believe that Tom Cross will do a fantastic job as Treasurer.  He’s been a public servant in many capacities–as a prosecutor, as a state representative, and then as the Republican Leader in the state house.  He’s a tested leader, and someone who can get the job done, and done well.