Pro-Sanctuary Rauner Rediscovers His Base a Week Before GOP Primary
But it will take more than a last-minute tack on a gun bill to regain the trust of Illinois conservatives,' CIS' Jessica Vaughan warns
Embattled Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) finally found something to share with the party’s fed-up base on a hot-button issue, one week before his gubernatorial primary election on Tuesday, when he vetoed a bill requiring gun dealers to be licensed.
Rauner angered Republicans last year by signing bills protecting illegal immigrants from being detained by police, requiring taxpayer money to fund abortions through Illinois’ Medicaid program, and preventing abortions from becoming illegal if the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade. As a result, some GOP donors abandoned Rauner, while GOP state lawmakers and members of the party’s base said they felt betrayed.
But Rauner vetoed a bill Tuesday stipulating that all Illinois gun dealers must obtain licenses from the Department of Finance and Professional Regulation and renew them every five years.
“I’m going to veto that bill, it’s just not right,” Rauner told Illinois radio station WJPF. “It’s unnecessary, burdensome regulation.”
Rauner said that he was looking for a more “comprehensive solution” that would best benefit Illinoisans.
“What I will do and continue to do for many days is to work with our members of the General Assembly on a bipartisan basis to come up with real solutions together on a bipartisan basis,” Rauner said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
But the unpopular Illinois governor ended 2017 with a net approval rating of -24 percent, according to a February poll from Morning Consult. A poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute released in late February showed that Rauner would lose to the Democrats’ lead contender, J.B. Pritzker, by 15 percent. National Review panned Rauner as “the worst Republican governor in America” in a December 2017 article.
“Rauner should be worried, but I think it’s going to take more than a last-minute tack on a gun bill to regain the trust of Illinois conservatives,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, told LifeZette in an email.
"His immigration policies — in particular, his decision to go along with the radical state sanctuary bill — are going to hurt him, because they have exacerbated immigration-related public safety problems in the state," Vaughan noted.
"Rauner has been indifferent to the people harmed by illegal immigration," she added. "He rebuffed attempts by victims of sanctuary policies to speak with him, and this mistake has given his primary opponent, Jeanne Ives, an opening to show how her approach would be better."
Ives and Rauner will face off in the Illinois GOP gubernatorial primary next week. Ives, an Illinois state representative who served in the U.S. Army, ripped Rauner for refusing to veto the immigration and abortion bills.
"Governor Rauner has failed the integrity test in many ways," Ives said, according to WGN9 TV. "His base has left him."
Vaughan said that it's "noteworthy" that two of the "leading figures" in the Illinois immigration debate who lost loved ones to illegal immigrant drunken drivers, Brian McCann and Eric Brady, "have endorsed Ives and worked with her to draw attention to Rauner's pro-sanctuary stance."
"Considering these positions, there is no way Rauner can credibly claim to be in sync with President Trump's agenda," Vaughan said. "It's more likely that his refusal to veto the state sanctuary bill will cause the state to lose some federal funding and possibly draw a lawsuit by the Trump administration."
McCann's brother was killed by an illegal immigrant drunken driver in June 2011 when he was crossing a busy street in Chicago. Although the immigrant was imprisoned, he was released after a sanctuary ordinance allowed him to post bond. Brady's wife was killed by an illegal immigrant driver on New Year's Day in 2017. Brady told LifeZette that the local authorities "wouldn't even book him."
Both men tried to meet with Rauner in August as the governor mulled over whether or not to veto the sanctuary bill.
"And he was waffling throughout the entire month," McCann said. "We were promised that we would get a meeting with the governor, so we could make our case, and it never came to fruition."
"So we were very angry. So no, we're not pleased with Gov. Rauner at all. He, as sitting governor, should never have signed that bill," McCann added. "It did not enjoy the support of 11 million people in Illinois, the majority of the people, and certainly not the Republicans."
Brady, a veteran who served six years in the Army National Guard, said that he called Rauner's office twice asking to meet with him.
"That man has no credibility. And I really don't think he's done anything significant in office to begin with to support any of the conservative Republicans. He has done very little, if anything," Brady told LifeZette, adding that Rauner "has definitely lost a lot of the base."
Both men support Ives in her campaign against Rauner.
"We need to get back to the core values and not just be fiscally responsible, but be responsible to our people," Brady said. "Don't let things like this happen to the people that live here. This man had been deported multiple times and had committed crimes. So, I mean, it wasn't like he was an upstanding citizen. He was a criminal illegal immigrant."
Rauner's refusal to veto the sanctuary bill created a "public safety issue" that caused local law enforcement officers to have their "hands tied when they know these people are criminals," Brady said.
"This country needs to re-evaluate its importance of its citizens and the value of taking care of ourselves first before we can extend to taking care of others," Brady said, adding that Rauner's decision to cater to illegal immigrants' interests "is not patriotism."
McCann called Ives a "once in a generation" kind of person because she remains firm in her commitment to conservative policies in the face of intense pressure from Democrats and moderate Republicans, McCann said.
"And frankly, in Illinois we haven't had anybody quite like that since Lincoln," McCann said. "There's other arguments that the moderate Republicans of Illinois seem to think that they have to moderate their views on immigration to survive. There's some credibility to that argument, I suppose. But that didn't sit well with me."