State Sen. Dillard Enters 2014 Race For Governor

Jul 15, 2013

State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westont)

State Sen. Kirk Dillard is officially announcing his gubernatorial bid for the 2014 election Monday, joining an already crowded field but contending he is the one Republican who can win the general election.

Dillard is the fourth GOP member to announce a challenge to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn since June, joining state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Bill Brady and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.

It's the second bid for the post for Dillard, of DuPage County, who lost to Brady in the 2010 Republican primary by only 193 votes. But he pins that loss on moderate, suburban votes being split among several candidates from the same area - himself, former GOP Chair Andy McKenna and former Attorney General Jim Ryan.

Dillard said the state Republican Party risks repeating the same mistakes it made in 2010, with a crowded field and, so far, no consensus candidate.

"It is unbelievable that the Republican Party, and to some extent the business community, learned nothing from the 2010 gubernatorial primary, which resulted in a 67 percent income tax (increase) and Democrat domination" through the political redistricting process in 2010 that was controlled by the opposition party, he said.

Dillard plans a two-day statewide fly-around. On Monday he planned to kick off his day at his boyhood home in Chicago, followed by stops in Moline and Decatur. On Tuesday he plans to stop in Peoria, Murphysboro, Rockford and Lombard.

Dillard starts out with a disadvantage in fundraising. He raised about $275,000 in the last quarter, after beginning the year with just $33,000 in the bank, putting him far behind Rutherford and Rauner. But Dillard said he isn't concerned.

"Throughout my career I've always been able to raise the amount of money I needed to get my message across," Dillard said.

Dillard, a senator since 1994 and former chief of staff to Gov. Jim Edgar, said he is the "most proven and tested leader in state government."

"I am the candidate who has a proven track record of being able to get things done with a Democratic General Assembly," he told The Associated Press in an interview.

Thom Serafin, a political analyst in Chicago, predicted the GOP primary would again be close, and said Dillard will have to step up his fundraising game. But he thought Dillard has a good shot against the rest of the field.

"They're all in in it, but with Kirk Dillard's track record and his experience, conventional wisdom would suggest he has an edge with Republican primary voters," Serafin said. "If Jim Ryan hadn't been in the primary last time, he probably would have won."

Dillard is considered a reach-across-the-aisle Republican with moderate social views. He supports abortion rights in some cases and said he voted against gay marriage this year because a civil union law is already in place. He believes the issue should be put to a statewide referendum.