Illinois incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner, until Monday, had determined to ignore the primary challenge he faces in state Rep. Jeanne Ives. But after Ives trounced Rauner in a de facto debate before the Chicago Tribune editorial board, many are saying Rauner better abandon his campaign strategy and begin engaging Ives before she sneaks up and knocks him out of office.
The two candidates met in the Tribune’s editorial offices to face the questions of the paper’s staff and writers, but by nearly all accounts, Ives (R-Wheaton) got the better of the exchanges with the governor.
Rauner may be currently favored in the polls, but that is likely because of his unavoidably greater name recognition as the sitting governor, and he is backed by his great personal fortune that helped get him elected in the first place.
But after Monday’s editorial board meeting, a host of Chicago reporters proclaimed Ives the putative winner of the debate that wasn’t an official debate.
Greg Hinz, political reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business, joined his fellow reporters in giving Ives the nod in the exchange, but Hinz went further, insisting that Rauner better change his strategy quickly or risk losing a primary he may think he already has secured.
Hinz advised that until he achieves victory on Primary Day, Rauner should dump his intention to ignore Ives and, instead, engage her before it is too late.
The reporter noted that there are definitely things that Rauner can use to contrast his ideas with those Ives has been touting on the campaign trail. From tax policy to education and healthcare policy, Hinz said Rauner could easily make any of these a strong challenge to Ives’s rising threat.
Hinz went on to point out that Ives is running on some extremely conservative ideas, and in a liberal state such as Illinois, Rauner could make her positions a harder sell. “Sure, doing so would provoke some conservative voters,” Hinz said. But he added that there is the whole ‘enemy you know’ concept going on with the race so far. “Would [conservatives] rather have a liberal [in Gov. Rauner] — or very liberal — Democrat in office?” Hinz asked.
The reporter ended his analysis with a warning: “You want to keep your job, Governor? It’s time to start acting like you mean it.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.