Dillard's AFSCME Endorsement: Too Little, Too Late?

Mar 6, 2014

AFSCME is the third government-employee union to endorse state Sen. Kirk Dillard for governor, coming after the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican candidate for governor Kirk Dillard has picked up the endorsement of the the state's largest government-employee union. But with less than two weeks until the election, Brian Mackey asks if it's too little, too late.

Dillard's endorsement from AFSCME comes after front runner Bruce Rauner has been blanketing the state with television ads for months.

Rauner has been pounding a message that he'll fight so-called "government union bosses." He says state employees bargaining for salaries and benefits is "corrupt" and "immoral," and one of Illinois' biggest problems.

Dillard's running mate, State Rep. Jil Tracy, says a lot of those state workers are Republican voters.

"To demonize a whole category of people that work very hard in our state government, and to demonize teachers, is incredible to me," Tracy says.

AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer says the union waited on its gubernatorial endorsement while it decided who was best positioned to try to defeat Bruce Rauner.
Credit Afscme31.org

As you'd expect, AFSCME executive director Henry Bayer is critical of Rauner's message. But Rauner has been ahead in the polls for weeks, so what was AFSCME waiting for?

"Frankly, in part we were waiting to see who had the best chance of beating Bruce Rauner," Bayer says.

The AFSCME endorsement doesn't come with any money to help Dillard finally buy time for crucial TV ads. But an independent group that had previously been exclusively anti-Rauner says it's beginning to air ads in support of Dillard.