State Sen. Kirk Dillard made official today his second consecutive bid for the Republican nomination for governor, blasting Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn for what he called a lack of leadership on key issues.
Speaking outside the Lakeview home where he spent his early years, Dillard called Illinois an "embarrassment" and "the punch line of late night talk shows."
"We have a governor who is either unaware of these problems or unable to govern," Dillard said of Quinn.
"Illinois is not working...because one party has controlled Springfield for far too long," Dillard added.
The 58-year-old Hinsdale Republican, who lost the 2010 GOP primary by less than two votes per county to fellow state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, was expected to be joined in Decatur this afternoon by his one-time boss, former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar.
Unlike his previous run for governor, Dillard is not confronted with challenge of facing a variety of rivals from his home-base of Republican-rich DuPage County, where vote splitting helped lead to the 20-year lawmaker losing the nomination to Brady by 193 votes or .02 percent.
Also new for Dillard this time is the all-or-nothing nature of his campaign. By entering the 2014 race, Dillard is giving up near certain re-election to the state legislature since his Senate seat also is on next year’s ballot.
Dillard joins a Republican field that includes Brady, who was defeated in the 2010 general election by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Pontiac, who also will be giving up his statewide post to run, and wealthy venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.
Dillard’s desire to make one more bid for governor was no secret, and the former Edgar chief of staff has been traveling the state for more than a year, making speeches and holding meet-and-greets on the Republican rubber-chicken dinner circuit.
Last summer at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Edgar stopped short of endorsing Dillard again. But the former governor noted, “I think there's people who have some buyer's remorse off that (last) primary” that Brady won and urged Dillard not to “sit this one out.”
Edgar is back on the bandwagon as Dillard’s campaign has hopes that the former governor’s good reputation among Republican voters has not been lost among a new generation of voters. Edgar retired as governor 14 years ago.
While sometimes viewed as a suburban moderate, Dillard has socially conservative credentials, including seeking greater restrictions on abortion and backing the carrying of concealed firearms.
Still, Dillard is likely to have to once again confront challengers pointing to his decision to appear in a campaign ad for President Barack Obama’s initial bid for the Democratic nomination. Dillard went on to serve as a nominating delegate that year for Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and has denounced Obama policies as “socialist.”
Today, Dillard contended state government has failed average citizens who aren't "politically connected or those who think they can but influence or buy their way into office."
Dillard also said he believed the state's massive unfunded pension liability would have been resolved if he had been elected in 2010.
And he called for two constitutional amendments, one banning legislative pay if lawmakers fail to adopt a balanced budget and another eliminating pensions for future lawmakers. Dillard said he approved of Quinn's line item veto of legislative pay until a pension fix is passed, but said Quinn also has failed to demonstrate leadership.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun