In a surprise move, pro-life conservative Sen. Sam McCann (R-Plainview) announced Monday he would not seek re-election to his 50th state senate district seat. Is he retiring? Anonymous sources say the wording of the senator’s announcement leaves the door open for a possible independent run for Illinois Governor against Bruce Rauner.
Could it happen?
In his statement, McCann said: “I am unable to continue on with a party or a governor who continually attack working people; who support forcing taxpayers to fund abortions; who have turned Illinois into a sanctuary state; who have advanced the most liberal standards in the nation giving transgender individuals the ability to alter their birth certificates; and who have destroyed Illinois’ Right of Conscience Act so as to force pro-life doctors, nurses and other providers to violate their consciences and be denied their Constitutional Rights. This is no longer a Republican Party that is recognizable to me.”
Speculation about McCann’s bid is fueled by the “sore loser” law provision of the Illinois election code: By filing petitions or voting in a primary, you legally cannot run as an independent. The filing period for independent candidates is June 18-25.
If McCann runs as an independent, he would join radio talk show host William J. Kelly, in the general election against Rauner. Kelly made the announcement Monday after not filing in the Republican primary for Governor.
An independent candidate in the general election could seal Rauner’s political fate. In 2014, after spending $26 million of his own fortune, Rauner beat incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn 50.3% to 46.4%. A close vote – even for a wealthy newcomer. With few to no accomplishments in his first term, the vote will be even closer this time. A close race means a McCann candidacy could be the ultimate political payback.
In 2016, Rauner funneled $3.2 million in “I’ll teach you a lesson” money to Dan Proft’s Liberty Principles PAC to destroy McCann in the GOP primary after he cast an incidental pro-labor vote in his union heavy downstate district. Rauner’s message: Obey me or else!
In a textbook example of political malpractice, Proft’s unending flood of negative ads against the state senator backfired in the 50th district and McCann won re-election handily. McCann spent a measly $689,000, leaving Rauner aides tried to explain the embarrassing defeat: “He [McCann] was a god in that district.”
How did Proft bungle $3.2 million so badly? Observers say Rauner/Proft underestimated McCann’s good guy “cred” in his district. McCann also received the endorsement of pro-life groups statewide (excluding pro-Rauner Family PAC, run by Paul Caprio).
In his 2016 proxy war with House Speaker Michael Madigan, Rauner and friends spent upwards of $9 million on three legislative races and lost them all. Talk about losers.
Dan Proft is also behind Rep. Jeanne Ives‘ primary challenge to Bruce Rauner in the 2018 primary and, as the Capitol Fax blog noted Monday, her Twitter feed after Ives tweeted an identical tweet.
Proft’s public control of Ives’ campaign has raised eyebrows. In late September, Crain’s Greg Hinz reported Dan Proft and John Tillman offered Rauner a deal to raise $30 million in exchange for control of GOP legislative races and jobs. Did the deal go south? Is that why Ives joined the race? Is this about money and control of GOP races and not about the Republican party platform?
A McCann candidacy would bring these questions to the forefront.