A Former Downstate Professor Looks at the Republican Gubernatorial Race

Reprinted with permission:

Peril at top of Illinois ticket for GOP 

Jim Nowlan 

Candidates for one elective office can affect the outcomes for others on the same party ticket. For example, an unattractive or goofy candidate at the top of the ticket can depress turnout of the party faithful, thus depriving all candidates down the ballot of their votes. 

That is what scares the dickens out of Illinois Republican Party leaders, who appear thus far impotent to do anything about such possibilities. 

At the top of the 2022 ballot in Illinois is the office of U.S. senator, held by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who seeks re-election.

As I have written elsewhere, who would want to run against an unobjectionable woman who had her legs blown off while piloting an Army helicopter in Iraq, defending her country? 

I have not heard of any credible types who are willing, most likely, to fall on their swords in a race against Sen. Duckworth.

This increases the chances that a nut case could file petitions and become the GOP nominee.

It has happened before.

In 1986, Illinois Democrats nominated two unknown radicals with good ballot names (Janice Hart and Mark Fairchild) to the state ticket, which assured the defeat of former U.S. Senator Adlai Stevenson in his bid for governor. 

Next on the ballot is governor

The incumbent JB Pritzker has more money than Croesus, and is willing to spend it to be reelected. 

At this time, there are four GOP candidates: 

• Darren Bailey, a folksy, very conservative downstate, anti-vax lawmaker who has the passionate support of the important home school and Christian school network, probably more effective than any GOP network. 

Darren Bailey at the McHenry County GOPac Pro-Life event.

• Successful, suburban businessman Gary Rabine (last name pronounced with two “long” vowels), a Trump supporter. 

Gary Rabine at the Crystal Lake Business Expo.

• Paul Schimpf, a retired Marine JAG officer and former state senator from the Metro East St. Louis region, and 

Paul Schimpf at the County Fair.

• Jesse Sullivan, a 35-year-old, telegenic All-American sort who has made some money in the Silicon Valley, yet trumpets his roots, home and family in picturesque rural Petersburg. 

[Sullivan has not bee sighted in McHenry County.]

At present, Bailey appears far ahead of the other three, yet the primary isn’t until late June. I see quite a few Bailey yard signs in my travels around central Illinois. Yard signs spread across downstate are a decent indicator of a strong network of supporters, good organization, and the potential to raise some money. 

My insider lobbyist, legislator and political junkie friends say the only type who has a chance against Pritzker is one who can appeal to women in the suburbs.

In 2018, the 6½ suburban counties around Chicago cast a total of 2.1 million votes; those in the 95 counties “downstate” cast 1.5 million.

Surveys report that college-educated women, though not enthusiastic about abortion, strongly oppose (around 75 percent; various polls) overturning Roe v Wade, as a women’s rights issue.

The four GOP aspirants are all pro-life. 

And then there is the matter of money to go up against “Croesus,” who spent $175 million of his own moolah to win the top state office in 2018.

The state GOP lacks two nickels to rub together.

So, all political junkie eyes are on billionaire Ken Griffin, who has more money than even Croesus, and who has declared he will spend it to beat the guv.

But Griffin’s political people have found no candidate as yet. I am told Griffin prefers newcomers to old politicians. 

I think the ideal GOP candidate would be a credible, law-and-order prosecutor (think Jim Thompson in the 1970s), because law and order will be a leading issue in 2022. Suburbanites are scared witless by the violence in the city. 

Lacking such, or a consolidation of Sullivan, Schimpf, Rabine into one candidacy,

Bailey wins the primary, at least as of right now. 

But in the November general election, Bailey would likely be the darling of downstate, while falling flat in the ’burbs, winning an enthusiastic 40 percent of the total vote. 

So, a possible doofus at the top, with Bailey just below, could spell disaster for other races down the long ballot, because of depressed GOP turnout.

For example, I have an interest in two, important Illinois Supreme Court races, located in mostly suburban districts. But voters do not go to the polls, or not, because of unknown Supreme Court candidates.

Thus, these competitive races, found at the very bottom of the ticket, could be determined at the top of the ballot. 

Illinois GOP leaders should get on their knees to top-drawer citizens who might be willing, out of a sense of noblesse oblige, to take on a likely losing U.S. Senate race, and hope that a candidate who can appeal in the suburbs will emerge from the gubernatorial primary 

Jim Nowlan is a former state legislator and aide to three unindicted Illinois governors. A retired professor of American politics, he writes a newspaper column on Understanding Illinois. 


A Former Downstate Professor Looks at the Republican Gubernatorial Race — 14 Comments

  1. Funny Professor Nolan never heard of Bobby Piton who has declared his candidacy against the Senate communist that had “her legs blown off” taking government equipment on a beer run. Keep following Chuck Schumer Duckworth commie.

    Ken Griffin? Really. The guy and his wife are…well I’ll stifle my opinion.

    And nevermind. The rig is already in with these voter roles and cheating machines. When I read these articles, it is easy to lose focus of that. The trust fund silver spoon idiot will be the chosen one again. Too funny this state.

    And Professor Nolan I’ll be sure to share with Mr. Piton that his filing qualifies him as a “nut case”. I would say pot meet kettle, but I don’t know enough about the article writer to say that with certainty.

  2. https://mchenrycountyblog.com/2021/12/03/looking-at-sullivans-and-baileys-gubernatorial-chances/

    Nowlan’s pieces has some similarities to what I wrote.

    1. He says Bailey is the front runner of the GOP field.
    2. He doesn’t think Bailey will win the general election.
    3. He says a candidate would need to consolidate Rabine, Schimpf, and Sullivan votes; my comment was about what Sullivan would have to do to win the primary so said he would have to “expropriate” support from Schimpf and Rabine but was getting at the same idea as Nowlan.

    What Nowlan got wrong was describing Sullivan and Rabine as “pro-life.”

    If you watch Sullivan’s long interview, he waffled on the question and said he was personally pro-life which is a dog whistle that he’s not pro-life enough to push for pro-life legislation.

    On Rabine, a lot of people missed it but Gary Rabine was quoted earlier in the year saying people in Illinois would always have a right to abortion.

    Rabine also said he is a man of law and would support Roe vs Wade if that were the law.

    Rabine has said it wouldn’t be a priority (similar to Sullivan).

    Here are the articles.




    Rabine would encourage adoption and ultrasound but didn’t say there should be a law forcing an ultrasound.

    To me this is all indication that Sullivan and Rabine are not hardliners on the pro-life stance which kind of makes sense since they are businessmen.

    Their concerns would be more about the economy and crime and justice than a hot button moral issue, and both likely realize that having a strong pro-life position in Illinois makes one a GONER.

    You’re not getting elected statewide talking about banning abortion.

    The news will mention that Rabine has supported pro-life candidates, but I think that has more to due with it being part of a package deal when you contribute to Republicans.

    He supports Republicans who are incidentally pro-life; he’s not supporting a candidate BECAUSE they are pro-life.

    He wouldn’t help out a pro-life Democratic candidate.

    He helps Republicans get elected because he likes their stances on taxes and regulations, and some of those people happen to be pro-life.

    Even if he supports advocacy organizations that are pro-life, his intent would be that they are going to use money to elect Republicans who are, to him, incidentally pro-life.

    That’s my take anyway.

    Only in an extremely Democratic state does a candidate like Rabine or Rezin who says “we shouldn’t go even FURTHER on pro-choice legislation” get considered “pro-life.”

    That’s how Rezin can have a strong pro-life record from pro-life organizations in the state but when running for congress would appear to be rather liberal — because Illinois is skewed liberally and Republicans in congress are skewed conservatively.


    A couple other points and then i eat meatloaf dinner:

    1 The “doofus at the top” in Nowlan’s article refers to the U.S. Senate race.

    You know it would be one of the first things on the ballot; federal elections come first.

    To further clarify it, in the next paragraph he says “to take on a likely losing U.S. Senate race, and hope that a candidate who can appeal in the suburbs will emerge from the gubernatorial primary,” so once again he shows you the order: U.S. Senate and then Governor.

    That means the “doofus at the top” is definitely about the GOP’s likely Senate candidate.

    Unlike the gubernatorial race, Nowlan doesn’t even bother naming who the U.S. Senate candidates are even though, just like the governor’s race, there are several.

    That tells me he thinks the gubernatorial candidates he listed are respectable but not electable.

    On the other hand, the Senate candidates don’t even get a name drop and he thinks a “doofus” will win.

    I also inferred that Nowlan must believe that all of the Senate candidates are doofuses, otherwise he likely would have bothered mentioning any non-doofuses since the whole point of his letter is that Republicans need to find good candidates for “the top of the ballot.”

    2 Nowlan thinks a “doofus at the top, with Bailey just below” is going to cost Republicans seats on the Illinois Supreme Court.

    What will the Supreme Court districts look like?

    They were just redistricted.

    There are 7 seats and Cook County will get 3 seats.

    Presumably they will be Democratic and the two districts not touching Cook will be Republican.

    That leaves a district made up of Lake, McHenry, Kane, Kendall, and Dekalb County and another district made up of DuPage, Will, Kankakee, Iroquois, Grundy, LaSalle, and Bureau County as the two more competitive races.

    If one of them goes Democratic, Democrats have a majority.

    If both of them go Democratic, then Democrats will have a majority and one seat of wiggle room in case of a defector.

    Both districts have those “suburban” counties that Nowlan mentions.

    He is probably correct that Illinois Democrats will win the governor, senator, and a majority of supreme court races.

    It looks like the suburban seat further south will go Democratic regardless of who is at the top of the ballot given the concentration of voters in DuPage and Will County.

    The district that McHenry County is in should be more competitive, but still looks like it leans Democratic to me with a high concentration of voters in Lake and Kane County.

    3. The LaRouchies were funny.

  3. By now I’d hope that enough people know that Sullivan is a Democrat plant.

    Rabine is a Republican that donates to Democrats.

    He and Schrimpf are polling too low and neither of them have a hook.

    Bailey is also ‘a very succeybussinessman. Also a founding member of Full Armor Christian Academy k-12. While he’s an IL state senator now,Bailey has won every race he’s set out to run for.

    (longtime school board member, IL State Rep, IL State Senator and now polling highest as candidate for Gov)

    Bailey is different enough from the rest that could actually beat the Dem incumbent Pritzker.

    While it’s possible any of them could get the nomination, it’s Bailey that seems to be the one to get grass-root Republican/Independent support.

    He doesn’t have to wait til he gets the nomination to get campaign dollars flooding in.

    He’s raising more than the others who are polling under him and they’re polling way under him.

    Bailey is currently the only R opponent that Pritzker’s bothered to send campaign workers to spy at campaign events hosted by & for.

    Also Pritzker has a commercial in the can against Bailey (he’s not bothering with the others) so he sees Bailey as a threat and this speaks volumes.

  4. Nowlan is an lgbtq fraudster. Why listen to anything he says?

  5. Pritzker also has his Mossad buddies to through a wrench at Bailey.

    Or more than a wrench.

    Pritzker wants to be the first jewish President.

  6. @SITBD

    1. On Sullivan being a plant. It’s possible. Has he been properly vetted? He came out of nowhere with tons of money and has Silicon Valley ties. Where was he in Illinois politics before this? I’m unaware of him doing anything in politics prior to him saying he wants to be the governor. It’s fishy, and Sullivan has at least one megadonor who contributes to Democrats.

    2. On Rabine giving to Democrats. I have heard that claim on this blog before and have looked into it: could not find any Democrats he donated to and there were records of his donations going back well over a decade. If you know of a better source than the one I used that shows he gave to Democrats then please share the link and tell us which Democrats Rabine supposedly gave money to. For the time being, I’m going to assume your claim is false.

    3. On Rabine and Schimpf polling low and no hook. My hunch is that they are way behind but am unaware of any official polls — not corn polls or straw polls but real scientific polls — that have been published. Rabine’s hook would be he’s a businessman so Rauner electric boogaloo and Schimpf doesn’t have one at all other than maybe bragging about being in the military. I see no indication that either Rabine or Schimpf are picking up momentum despite Bob Anderson’s meaningless (and likely counterproductive) endorsement of Schimpf.

    4. Winning races in southern Illinois is different than winning a statewide race. Paul Schimpf gloats about winning an election in southern Illinois too; he got crushed when he ran statewide and that was in a GREAT year for the GOP (2014). I’ll agree Bailey has the most experience with campaigns which is helpful.

    5. There is not going to be campaign money “flooding in” if Darren Bailey is the nominee, and certainly not before the primary, because the people with lots of money don’t think he can win. Big donors don’t like throwing their money into unwinnable races. That was Nowlan’s point about Griffin staying on the sidelines. Contrast this primary to 2014 when the big bucks were flowing in for Rauner during the primary because he was seen as a candidate who could defeat Quinn (and he did). Bailey may be doing better than Schimpf or Rabine but none of them have jacksquat compared to Jesse Sullivan (all of them combined have far less than he does) or JB Pritzker. Paul Schimpf is a loser and Rabine is still largely unknown outside of McHenry County. This is like one lame person saying he is fast because he is faster than two other lame people. Fast compared to what? Lots of money compared to what? For a gubernatorial campaign, Bailey doesn’t really have that much. He has 1.2 million dollars but Sullivan has 10.2 million and Pritzker has over 24 million (closer to 25 million).

  7. Correcting — RE: Rabine and Dem donations, look here.

    This includes folks that aren’t Rabine as well, but its the easiest way to show you if you look through it (includes 14th Ward Dems (Ed Burke), Rahm Emanuel, 38th Ward Dems, Kurt Summers, Bridget Gainer, Villegas, etc):


  8. Thanks for the suggestion Shake.

    Ok I stand corrected. SITBD is right. My apologies to SITBD. Gary Rabine gives money to Democrats; we have the records!

    I used Illinois Sunshine a few months ago to research, but I checked again and see those ones you mentioned are on that site too so idk how I missed those :/ Maybe I did not count them because I assumed some of those were non-partisan races (like the mayoral election). Admittedly I don’t know much about the structure of Chicago elections and should have clicked on the names to get more information. Aren’t aldermen nonpartisan races too? So what gives? He was donating to Democratic ward aldermen? Is that the equivalent of precinct committeemen?

    Why would Rabine care about that stuff? I could see a nonpartisan aldermanic race, but if it’s a partisan position I don’t really understand why. Could someone explain this.

    Shake, do you know if some of those people in Chicago that Gary Rabine contributed to were running against people who were further to the left? For example, they have partisan municipal races in Buffalo and a socialist challenger won the Democratic primary, but the incumbent Byron Brown launched a write-in campaign and won. He is a Democrat but I would assume he would have been supported by the non-left wingers in the city including Republicans. Do you know if Rabine was supporting Democrats who were considered more moderate than their opponents? Or like if a pro-life group were to have given money to Dan Lipinski instead of Marie Newman, it would be because he is more socially conservative than she is. You know what I’m getting at, right? I don’t follow Chicago politics closely at all as you can tell.

    If I recall, Rahm was not the most moderate candidate in the Chicago mayoral election in 2011 but he did seem to always be the front runner so maybe Rabine’s contribution was more like buying influence since he knew Rahm would inevitably win? Well no point in guessing about the “why.” I don’t have a preferred candidate in this contest so no need to rationalize for Rabine. He can answer about this and more (like the abortion issue I pointed out in another post) over the next several months.

  9. Again, I’ll point out that Trump contributed to Democrat politicians.

    Any significant businessman does the same.


  10. Poppycock, Monk!

    Rabine is no NY Real Estate developer and entertainment mogul like Trump who needed to donate in order to get things done in Progressive Liberal NYC!

    Rabine could’ve stayed out of donating to Dems and having his Dad do the same.

    We’re talking donating to ‘crooked Ed Burke’ here!

    And then try to run as a Conservative Republican?

    Great move if your plan is to be another Rauner.

  11. **Nefarious snake lives up to his name.**

    Oh, Orcs. I’m sorry that you find facts nefarious, but you do you.

    Correcting — I don’t have time today to compare when the contributions happened and who the candidates were running at the time.

    But you’re “more moderate” against “more progressive” argument definitely doesn’t hold true for all the Dems he have to.

    Chicago aldermanic and mayoral races are non-partisan… but that doesn’t mean that we don’t know who the candidates are and what party they align with.

    As for the ward committeeperson stuff – oftentimes an Alderman is also the ward committeeperson.

    So someone can make a contribution to their Ward committee instead of the aldermanic campaign committee, but the same person (i.e. the corrupt Ed Burke) still gets the money.

  12. Rabine’s company did work on burying pipes on Chicago streets.

    Instead of closing a street for a week, I believe they were closed for a day, maybe two.

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