Big money and bad blood. That’s what you can expect to see flowing in a big way for next year’s race for Illinois governor.
While the election will be next year, the campaign is here now.
Make no mistake. Every stop you see Governor Bruce Rauner make is designed to promote his policies, vilify his Democratic opponents who try to block him, namely Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, and position himself for reelection.
He deposited $50 million into his own campaign account. It’s his line in the sand that he will fight to the bitter end to get his way.
Holding onto the governor’s mansion isn’t enough. He also needs to break the Democratic stronghold in the General Assembly. Rauner isn’t doing anything differently than any other governor would.
He has the bully pulpit and he’s using it.
The problem is that Illinois is close to winding up its third legislative session without a real budget. That will undoubtedly be the defining issue of the campaign.
Rauner will have to wait until November 6th, 2018 to see if voters will give him another chance.
Democrats will pick who they want to take on Rauner much sooner than that. We’re less than a year away from the March 20th primary.
Six candidates are in the race and it’s possible that list could grow.
There’s billionaire J.B. Pritzker who could match Rauner’s big spending; Chris Kennedy, son of Bobby Kennedy and nephew of president John F. Kennedy; State Senator Daniel Biss; Chicago City Council Member Ameya Pawar; Bob Daiber, Madison County superintendent of schools; and small businessman Alex Paterakis. The last three could be considered longshots to win the nomination.
Alex Paterakis is arguably the longest shot of all of them. He is the youngest candidate in the race at 29 years old. The graduate of Purdue University is a civil engineer by trade who’s worked on highway construction projects in Illinois.
He has never run for political office before.
He has an economic agenda that sounds a bit like the current governor. Paterakis calls for spending reform to limit the taxes on manufacturing companies, tax reform that includes a property tax freeze, removing sales taxes on manufacturing and he supports term limits.
Then he has ideas that align more with Democrats: providing more money for primary education, reforming the financing system for college like being able to refinance student loans and cutting interest rates. He calls for increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour. All of this seems hard to do while holding the line on taxes.
That is, until you see he supports legalizing recreational marijuana as a way to provide more revenue for the state.
Longshot or not, Alex Paterakis is a voice in this campaign. TV ads by the big money names will try to drown him out along with some of the other candidates.
But, Paterakis had the chance to make his case during an appearance on 4 the Record.
He responded to questions about how he can overcome the odds of little name recognition, lower campaign financing and a lack of political experience to convince the voters of Illinois that he should be the next governor.
Paterakis admits he can’t compete on money, but maintains he has strong support on social media that will be the backbone of his grassroots campaign.
The Democrat thinks he could work with Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly as a political newcomer by showing a willingness to talk with them and work on compromise.
He says he could get different results than Governor Bruce Rauner who came into office as another outsider. Arguably, things haven’t gone so well for him.
Paterakis explained his approach be to the Illinois budget crisis and the deficit. On the income tax front specifically, Paterakis supports implementing a graduated tax rate like exists in iowa to force the wealthiest earners to pay a larger share. That would require a Constitutional amendment.