Republicans rage at Rauner – POLITICO

 In Politics

Until recently, the biggest question looming over Illinois politics has been whether Republican Bruce Rauner, the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the country, can win re-election next year.

Now the question is whether Rauner can make it through a Republican primary.

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After the first-term governor signed a highly controversial bill last week expanding taxpayer-funded abortion in the state — becoming the first governor in decades to on his own authorize Medicaid payments for the procedure — Rauner’s political universe began collapsing on itself.

He found himself uninvited to GOP events, including a pro-life event that for weeks had boasted him as a headline guest. One-time GOP allies began searching for funding — and candidates — to challenge him. Chicago’s Cardinal Blasé Cupich declared that Rauner had betrayed him.

The Chicago Sun-Times summed up the reaction on the right with this screaming tabloid cover page: “Benedict Rauner.”

“There is no other Republican governor in the country — no one — who would support taxpayer funding of abortion,” said state Rep. Jeanne Ives, who says she “wouldn’t rule out” a run against Rauner herself. “He cannot win in a Republican election, he doesn’t stand for core Republican values.”

Ives said she and other Republicans remember in the 2014 primary when Rauner told them he was personally anti-abortion but had no social agenda, and instead would focus on economics. She later learned that Rauner had privately signed a statement that same year with an abortion rights advocacy group — which didn’t become public until this year — that he supported the public funding of abortion.

“It just feels he was the Manchurian candidate all along and we’re just now figuring it out,” Ives said.

Last week, mouths dropped when Cardinal Cupich told the Chicago Tribune that Rauner had gone back on his word to him personally that he would veto HB40, the controversial abortion bill.

“I felt like at this point, where he literally goes back on his commitment to the people of state of Illinois, the Legislature, even Cardinal Cupich — I mean, you lied to a priest,” state Rep. Peter Breen said in a recent radio interview. “Once he’s done that there’s no one left that thinks this guy is a credible governor or candidate to continue to be governor going forward.”

Breen happens to be the Republican floor leader in the Illinois House. The previous floor leader stepped down earlier this summer after butting heads with Rauner on an entirely different issue.

“I understand abortion is a very emotional issue with passionate opinions on both sides. I sincerely respect those who believe abortion is morally wrong. They are good people motivated by principle,” Rauner said in a statement last week explaining his position. “But, as I have always said, I believe a woman should have the right to make that choice herself and I do not believe that choice should be determined by income. I do not think it’s fair to deny poor women the choice that wealthy women have.”

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