CHICAGO – The three veteran Illinois lawmakers seeking the Republican nomination for governor continued to struggle to raise money in the final quarter of last year, as newcomer Bruce Rauner brought in more than five times the amount of his three opponents combined.
Rauner, a wealthy businessman from Winnetka, raised about $4 million between October and December – the final full quarter before the March 18 primary. He spent much of that money on a barrage of television ads aimed at increasing his name recognition, leaving him with about $396,000 cash on hand. But his personal wealth and support from major GOP donors will allow him to easily refill his coffers, and maintain his television presence, until the election.
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa raised about $393,000 during the same period, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state. He ended the quarter with about $1.37 million on hand – the most of any GOP candidate.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale raised about $328,000 and had about $144,000 in his campaign fund at year's end.
State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, the party's 2010 nominee, brought in about $73,000 and ended the quarter with about $270,000.
Rutherford, Dillard and Brady have all insisted that money can't buy elections in Illinois. They say that's particularly true in a GOP primary, where voters tend to be party faithful who reward candidates with established Republican records.
Brady said Wednesday he believes that Republican base will turn out for him. He also said he's not worried about lagging so far behind in fundraising, saying he never expected to have the money to spend on TV ads like Rauner has. He said his strategy has been to focus more on grass-roots efforts and social media.
"We've got enough money to run the kind of campaign we thought we'd run," Brady said. "Our base is solid. Very solid."
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is seeking re-election, had not yet filed his fourth quarter report as of Wednesday evening. But he had about $3 million in his campaign fund at the end of the third quarter, and without a major primary challenger he's been able to bank money since then.
Rauner has argued that his fundraising numbers show he's the only candidate who can compete with Quinn in the November general election.
Tio Hardiman, a Democrat from Hillside who is challenging Quinn in the primary, reported he brought in about $15,000. He finished the year with about $550 in his account.