Sen. Kirk Dillard today jumped into the 2014 gubernatorial race.
In recent months Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, made it no secret that he planned to run, but he officially kicked off his campaign today with a series of news conferences throughout the state. Dillard now joins three other Republican candidates in the race: businessman Bruce Rauner, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Sen. Bill Brady.
Dillard and Brady faced each other in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, which Brady won. Brady went on to lose the general election to Gov. Pat Quinn.
Brady announced in June that he would make his third run for governor. “It’s time to finish the job we started four years ago,” Brady said at a Springfield stop on his campaign launch tour of the state. “Illinois can grow and prosper again. It starts with putting the right leadership at the top. There’s a lot of work to be done, and it is time to finish the job we started.” Brady made the case that his failed bid for governor helped to make him the best-known candidate out of the four Republicans. He also said that he and his team had “learned” from the defeat.
Dillard served as chief of staff to former Gov. Jim Edgar, and it seems likely his campaign will play up his experience. Edgar, who endorsed Dillard in 2009, has said that he would likely back Dillard if the state senator chose to run again. A new ad on Dillard's campaign website describes him as “more tested” and “better prepared” than his opponents. “He doesn’t need to go on a listening tour of the state; his entire life has been a listening tour. He’s heard the people of Illinois, and he knows what to do,” the ad says. The line appears to be a shot at Rauner, who took a listening tour of Illinois before announcing his own bid for the governor’s office. Rauner has already raised more than $1 million and has substantial private wealth to tap. He is expected to outspend his Republican opponents.
In Chicago, the first campaign stop of several that Dillard is making across the state today, he pitched himself as the Republican who can “win a general election” and go on to be an effective leader afterward. “It's not just enough to elect a Republican governor,” he said. “You have to be someone who can work with Democratic legislators.”