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State Treasurer Dan Rutherford to announce run for governor

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford 2011. File. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford in 2011. File. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

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Updated: July 2, 2013 7:08AM

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he will formally announce Sunday that he is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

“We’re going to do it,” he told the Sun-Times.

Asked why he was running, Rutherford said, “I’ve reached that stage in my career,” citing his successes in the private sector as an executive for Downers Grove-based ServiceMaster, prior to his entrance into politics.

“I’ve had an enjoyable and I’d say successful ride in the political world,” he said.

Rutherford served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1993 through 2002, becoming a state senator in 2003. In 2010, he was elected Illinois treasurer.

He said he is in a good position financially to make a bid for the governor’s mansion.

“We closed at the end of March with more money than anyone else running on the Republican ticket other than one abundantly wealthy figure,” he said, referring to venture capitalist Bruce Rauner. “We will close the end of June with $1 million cash on hand, no debt and all bills paid.”

Rutherford, 58, said it is essential for Illinois to improve its economic outlook.

“In different parts of the country, different parts of the world, Illinois is really not looked at in so kind a light,” he said.

Though a Republican born in Pontiac, Rutherford is a fixture on the Chicago scene and has worked to establish himself as a Chicago-friendly politician.

“I love Chicago. I think it’s a class act, a wonderful, global city, and Chicago deserves its fair share. But then so does Chenoa,” he said, referring to the McLean County town of 1,700 in central Illinois where Rutherford lives. “I can work with people politically from different geographic parts of Illinois and people who have opinions on a lot of issues.”

If he defeats the emerging field of Republican opponents in the March, 2014 primary, that November he could face Gov. Pat Quinn in the general election.

“He is a good soul,” Rutherford said. “But I think there is a difference in management style between myself and Pat Quinn, I come from a private sector experience, dealing with international business. I understand what government can do to help or hurt you. I understand small business as well as large.”

Quinn is facing a possible primary challenge from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley.

In addition to Rauner, Republicans potentially vying against Rutherford include state senators Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and Bill Brady of Bloomington and talk radio personality Dan Proft.

If elected, Rutherford thinks the most important thing to do is help lower the unemployment rate, which he sees as affecting a range of other problems, such as violence.

“I empathize with law enforcement officials in Chicago, and I empathize with families,” he said. “We have four areas in Chicago with 55 percent unemployment rates. I think the ultimate response to what you do with guns is getting the unemployment rate down.”

As a Republican who tends to the liberal side of the spectrum on social issues, such as gay rights, does he worry that more conservative elements of his party will attack him personally during the campaign?

“Not at all,” he said. “Let ‘em come up. I’m talking about the jobs and the economy of the State of Illinois.”

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