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Brady calls Rauner's ties to Emanuel a 'huge liability'

Updated: August 23, 2013 6:09PM

SPRINGFIELD-Bruce Rauner rode up to Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair on his motorcycle Thursday, while Bill Brady wore the gym shoes Gov. Pat Quinn derisively said he couldn’t find after losing the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Those were just some of the images from what amounted to the Republican Party’s opening beauty contest leading up to the 2014 governor’s race, whose field also includes state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

Republican Day, which included a brunch and an afternoon fairground rally, started out in a mostly genteel manner with all four contenders for the party’s gubernatorial nomination appearing before the Republican County Chairmen’s Association and focusing on Illinois’ perilous financial state after six years of Quinn and a decade of all-Democratic control at the Statehouse.

But afterwards, the gloves came off with Brady taking a shot at both Dillard and Rauner, the friend of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and billionaire venture capitalist who has vowed to spend millions of dollars from his own fortune to boost his candidacy.

Brady, the GOP’s 2010 nominee who is narrowly leading the field in a poll this week by the Capital Fax political newsletter, called Rauner’s ties to Emanuel a “non-starter” for Republican primary voters. Brady compared Rauner’s personal and business ties to the mayor to Dillard’s decision to film a campaign commercial for President Obama during the 2008 presidential primary.

“People are tired of this one-city, one-party rule and the connections to Rahm,” Brady told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s a huge liability for a Republican, just as the Obama connection to Dillard is a huge liability.”

Emanuel represented Rauner’s private equity firm in the 2001 purchase of a home-security firm from SBC Communications, which at the time was headed by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley.

Rauner encouraged Emanuel to choose a career in investment banking after the mayor stepped down as a White House aide to former President Bill Clinton, and Rauner and Emanuel also have collaborated on several education-reform initiatives.

A Rauner aide dismissed Brady’s assertion and kept the focus on Rauner’s central theme of taking on unions and other Democratic interests that control the Statehouse.

“I think what we see on the campaign trail, voters care about what candidate will take on the special interests in Springfield, what candidate they can trust to take on the union bosses to improve the job climate, lower taxes and bring a business sense to the state,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. “We’ll see what the voters’ reception is to that message.”

Dillard took a more veiled shot at Rauner’s wealth during a speech to the Republican county chairmen in which the long-time senator from DuPage County emphasized his ties to former Gov. Jim Edgar, who is scheduled to appear with Dillard after an afternoon rally at the state fairgrounds.

“I have experience money can’t buy,” Dillard said.

“When I was Gov. Edgar’s chief of staff, we made Mike Madigan the minority leader, and we’ve got to do it again,” Dillard said, delivering one of the bigger applause lines of the morning.

Rutherford, meanwhile, said what sets him apart is his 2010 showing during his run for treasurer, in which he outperformed Quinn in overall votes and drew 22 percent of the vote in Chicago – exceeding a 20-percent vote benchmark Rutherford said is essential in the city for any winning GOP candidate.

“I’m the only candidate running for governor that’s actually won a statewide race,” Rutherford said, emphasizing later how he drew 66,000 more votes than Quinn did in his winning race against Brady.

“I know how to win,” Rutherford said.

Earlier in the day, Rauner dodged repeated questions about whether, as an avid motorcyclist, he favors a statewide helmet requirement for riders. Rauner, decked out in Wrangler jeans and a white oxford shirt, rode his motorcycle to Springfield.

“I always wear a helmet. You know what? Today is about the fair and having a lot of fun. I’m going to have a pulled pork sandwich and a lot of ice cream,” he told reporters.

And Brady, right out of the gate, showed off a pair of worn white Nike gym shoes, ridiculing a reference Quinn made to him during Governor’s Day. The governor said he could defeat any Democratic challengers and, as proof, held up Brady as a political pelt, noting that the Bloomington Republican is still “looking for his gym shoes” after his 2010 election loss.

“Pat Quinn needs to know I’ve got some running shoes,” Brady laughed.

The field of Republican candidates for the governorship still has no clear-cut frontrunner, though Brady is in the lead, according to the Capitol Fax poll of 1,102 likely Republican primary voters released this week.

In the Aug 13 survey by We Ask America, the polling arm of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Brady had 21 percent of those surveyed, compared to 17 percent for Rutherford, 14 percent for Rauner and 10 percent for Dillard.

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