Illinois’ senior Republican Congressman has declined to endorse Governor Bruce Rauner in next year's primary election.
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus was on St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast this week, where he turned down several opportunities to say whether he supports Rauner (the full transcript is below).
"The governor knows that I'm not happy with a couple positions that he's taken," Shimkus said. "And as he gets through the process and when he gets to the general election, if it's between him and a Democrat then I'll be supporting the governor."
Those positions include signing legislation that allows for state funding of abortion, and another bill intended to make Illinois a more welcoming place for immigrants.
Shimkus and others have said that makes Illinois a so-called “sanctuary state."
Rauner is facing a primary challenge from state Rep. Jeanne Ives.
She says her campaign is motivated in part by some of the same issues.
Asked to respond to Shimkus' decision not to endorse, the Rauner campaign responded with a statement attacking Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Listen to Shimkus discuss Rauner's re-election campaign with St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies, from the podcast Politically Speaking:
Jason Rosenbaum: ￼Are you going to — do you support his re-election?
Congressman John Shimkus: [pauses] What was that question?
Rosenbaum: I'll repeat it: Do you support his reelection bid? Because I know that there's already one state rep who's primarying him primarily because he signed a bill that allows Medicaid to pay for abortions. Am I getting that correctly, Jo?
Jo Mannies: ￼Yes.
Rosenbaum: ￼So I know a lot of people who are opposed to abortion rights are incensed with the governor now for signing that bill.
￼￼Shimkus: The governor knows that I'm not happy with a couple positions that he's taken. And as he gets through the process and when he gets to the general election, if it's between him and a Democrat then I'll be supporting the governor.
Rosenbaum: ￼But you didn't answer my question though. Are you going to support him in the Republican primary?
Shimkus: ￼I did not answer your question and I'm probably not going to answer your question.
Mannies: Because you're going to stay out of it.
Shimkus: ￼Yeah. I'm going to stay out of it. Right.
Rosenbaum: I mean to be honest, OK, he has a jillion dollars at his disposal, and I think a Republican primary opponent is going to be at a major disadvantage.
Shimkus: That's correct.
Rosenbaum: ￼But as I mentioned before, there is some — for various reasons, but the reason I just mentioned dealing with abortion — there is some not happiness among the conservative base in Illinois.
Shimkus: ￼Well I think a lot of us who campaigned — I campaigned with the governor quite a bit — and I think it was not stated, we didn't sign any oaths, but I think it was implied that if his focus was on fixing the fiscal mess and job-creation aspects of Illinois, we're all on board. We thought that he would stay out of some of the socially divisive issues. He did not. It's not just HB40, it's also sanctuary state status.