By Rick Pearson
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday will make official what had long been expected, formally announcing his plans to seek a second term as the state's chief executive despite turmoil within his own political party.
Sources said Rauner will release a video and take to Chicago morning television to declare his intent, though his campaign already has spent heavily on two TV ads with the tag line "Illinois is worth fighting for."
Rauner makes his formal declaration amid contentious times for the GOP in Illinois. The former private equity investor used his personal wealth to rebuild the party into a formidable campaign extension. But a series of controversial bill signings, capped by last month's approval of a bill to expand taxpayer-subsidized abortions to women covered by Medicaid and state employee health insurance, have left Rauner searching for a base of support as social conservatives look for someone to challenge him.
Several rank-and-file GOP lawmakers have publicly rebuked Rauner for signing the abortion-expansion legislation after promising to veto it in April as he sought to keep Republican legislators unified against Democratic majorities in the House and Senate during a record budget impasse.
Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton has acknowledged she is actively considering a primary challenge to Rauner and may launch an exploratory committee to see if cash is forthcoming to take on the wealthy governor.
Rauner's formal announcement also comes as lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday to consider his vetoes of legislation they passed earlier this year. Given the large-scale discontent among Republican lawmakers with their governor, Democrats are expected to press for overrides on bills that could serve to publicly embarrass Rauner.
Regardless of his political standing, Rauner has nearly $66 million in his campaign fund, largely due to an infusion of $50 million of his own cash last December and another $20 million from billionaire hedge-fund founder Ken Griffin.
But with internal GOP tensions, there are questions about whether Rauner's money can continue to keep his party's lawmakers in his corner.
(c)2017 the Chicago Tribune