PEORIA — Gov. Bruce Rauner signaled the key points of his fall re-election campaign during a visit to a Peoria manufacturer Thursday afternoon.
They include a pitch for lowering income tax rates, working to lower local property tax rates and continued cutting of red tape — as well as expressing his opposition to a progressive income tax and repeatedly tying Democratic opponent JB Pritzker to unpopular House Speaker Michael Madigan.
"It's about the people of Illinois against the machine in Chicago," he said speaking to employees after a short tour of G&D Integrated. Rauner also praised their manufacturing efforts for Komatsu America Corp., talked about improving the business climate, and re-told stories from his 2014 election campaign stump speech.
The first-term governor narrowly survived a primary challenge by state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, on Tuesday night, triumphing by less than 4 percent of the vote. Fully 46 percent of GOP voters in the Peoria area — Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Putnam and Stark counties — voted for Ives, some 16,577 ballots.
Asked about how he plans to restore party unity after the challenge, which centered on legislation Rauner has signed that bucks conservative orthodoxy, he offered few specifics.
"Primaries are difficult. Emotions run high, it's a very divisive process. There are some issues we disagree on. I respect those disagreements, I respect the different points of view," Rauner said. "I'm actually meeting with leaders right now, today and every day, talking about ways we can bridge the divides, come up with common ground on the issues that have divided us."
But he still bristled at some of the attacks lobbed his way during the primary — such as a claim that his signature on Senate Bill 31, the Illinois Trust Act, last fall made Illinois a so-called "sanctuary state" for illegal immigrants.
"Illinois is not a sanctuary state. I do not support Illinois being a sanctuary state. I do not support sanctuary cities," Rauner said, defending the bill as one signed at the urging of law enforcement, codifying their role in working with federal authorities on illegal immigration cases, limiting that work to instances in which the feds have a warrant.
He invoked Madigan a dozen times during about five minutes of remarks to employees and about 10 minutes of speaking to reporters, labeling him a "corrupt, career politician" and linking Madigan's agenda to Pritzker's.
However, at least one such claim — that Pritzker would support continued gerrymandering of state legislative maps — has been contradicted by Pritzker's statements elsewhere during the primary campaign that he would favor an independent commission drawing such maps.
Chris Kaergard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard