Illinois state senator joins gubernatorial race, garners mixed reactions


Source: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/MCT

Gov. Bruce Rauner declares victory on election night in 2014. Rauner called Conservative Party challenger Sam McCann a “political opportunist” after McCann declared his candidacy Thursday.

Syd Stone, City Editor

State Sen. Sam McCann (C-Plainview) announced his candidacy for governor Thursday, claiming that Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner has “abandoned” conservative values.

McCann’s presence in the race as a Conservative Party candidate threatens Rauner’s chances for reelection. Rauner is attempting to win back some Illinois Republicans who are frustrated with his decisions to sign laws expanding public funding for abortions and limiting law enforcement interactions with immigrants.

McCann, who was elected to the state Senate in 2010, has chosen Riverton, Illinois, resident Aaron Merreighn — a state employee — as his running mate. At a campaign stop at the University of Illinois on Saturday, Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker said McCann is a “fine human being” and a “public servant,” according to Illinois Homepage.

“Anybody who raises their hand, and particularly those who recognize that Bruce Rauner has been an utter and complete failure, I of course am glad to see them in the race to amplify that message,” Pritzker said.

Even though Pritzker said he doesn’t share “much in common” with McCann on the issues, he said he was “glad” McCann decided to run.

Rauner called McCann a “political opportunist,” saying he is only running for governor to “line his own pockets.”

“McCann’s unethical record speaks for itself: He failed to pay his taxes, racked up massive debts, lied about serving in the Marine Corps and used his campaign account as a personal piggy bank, even buying himself an SUV,” the Rauner campaign said in a statement to NBC last week.

It still remains unclear if McCann’s name will appear on the ballot come November though, as he needs to acquire 25,000 valid signatures by June 25.

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Twitter: @sydstone16