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Rauner skips candidate forum; rivals debate term limits

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Updated: January 22, 2014 2:01PM

Perceived GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Bruce Rauner skipped his second candidate forum of the week on Wednesday, allowing his rivals to steer the conversation on term limits — an issue Rauner has made a key part of his campaign to “shake up Springfield.”

“This is about ending pay-to-play (politics) and the culture of corruption that has damaged the state so deeply,” said State. Sen. Bill Brady, speaking during a breakfast at the Union League Club of Chicago. “Regardless of what you think about (House Speaker) Mike Madigan, no one deserves to be the speaker of the House for 30-plus years.”

Brady, of Bloomington, wants a constitutional amendment that would limit House members to five terms and state senators to three terms.

“No one should have that kind of clout and that kind of control,” he said.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he supports term limits only for the General Assembly leadership, while State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale offered another proposal.

“If you really want a game changer, it’s not term limits, it’s my constitutional amendment that forces the Legislature to have a balanced budget or they don’t get paid,” Dillard said.

Rauner has said he’s planning a “major financial” push for a term limits initiative. Rauner has previously called his three Republican opponents “career politicians” and part of the problem in Springfield.

Rauner, citing a scheduling conflict, was a no-show on Wednesday, despite being invited “many, many weeks ago,” forum host Chris Robling said.

Rauner’s opponents rarely mentioned him in a subdued event, in which each candidate sought to portray himself as the man best able to represent a diverse state and to beat Gov. Pat Quinn in the general election.

Rutherford repeatedly pointed out that he’s the only candidate to win a statewide race.

“With all due respect to Treasurer Rutherford and his victory, there’s no one more happy that he won than I am,” Brady said. “But there’s a big difference between running for governor in a $20 million race ... and having $5 million in negative ads thrown against you.”

Brady, who lost to Quinn in 2010, pointed out that he’d gone from winning 150,000 votes in the last gubernatorial primary to about 1.8 million in the general election.

“I ran against (Quinn) when he was in the middle of a honeymoon,” Brady said. “We can finish the job we started.”

Dillard said he’s got the best background to win, noting that he’s a suburbanite who announced his candidacy for governor in the city “where I lived in a three-flat with my immigrant grandfather.”


Twitter: @slesposito

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