Illinois’ GOP Governor Bruce Rauner is up for reelection in 2018, but he is facing a potential primary challenge by conservatives furious at his expansion of taxpayer funded abortion.
On Thursday, Rauner announced that he had signed into law a measure that would enable the expansion of abortions paid for by taxpayers. This new law would allow state health insurance and Medicaid to cover the cost of an abortion. A long time supporter of abortion, Rauner commented that he has “to be consistent with my values.”
I also believe that no woman should be forced to make a different decision than another woman would make purely based on her income…I believe that a woman living with limited financial means should not be put in the position where she has to choose something different than a woman of higher income would be able to choose.
Projections by the Illinois Right to Life (staunchly opposed to the legislation) predict that this will result in an increase of abortion rates, with 12,000 additional abortions each year. Another group projected the increase at 3,800 additional abortions each year.
The move by Rauner has pro-life conservatives threatening a primary challenger. Illinois state House Republican floor leader, Representative Peter Breen, called a primary “inevitable”.
“This guy is done,” Breen stated on Friday. “By signing this bill, he thought he was taking abortion off the table, but it’s put abortion front-and-center in the minds of the base that he needs in order to win.”
Loyola University political scientist John Frendreis also weighed in on the potential for a primary:
It’s the type of issue that galvanizes a segment of the population…I’m just not sure they could mount a successful insurgency against him. He is the major donor for the entire array of candidates running for the state Legislature next year.
Some are viewing the chance of winning a primary against Rauner as very slim. The Governor currently has $70 million in the bank and has the potential to access millions more, putting any potential challenger in a financial position equivalent to David versus Goliath. A primary candidate would also need to collect 5,000 valid petition signatures by December 4th in order to be added to the March 20th primary ballot.
Rauner won the Illinois gubernatorial election in 2014, entering political office for the first time after notably pledging that he had “no social agenda.” It remains to be seen how his recent foray into the abortion debate will affect his reelection chances, however.
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