With the departure of former Gov. Bruce Rauner from the state’s political scene, the Illinois Republican Party is turning to grassroots fundraising to try to help make up for at least some of the loss of its biggest benefactor.
Tim Schneider, Rauner’s handpicked chairman of the state GOP, announced the formation of the “Lincoln Legion” with membership through recurring contributions ranging from $10 to $25 a month in exchange for “exclusive invites” to Republican events.
“For too long, ready and willing donors from the grassroots have been neglected,” Schneider said in an email to Republicans. “Not anymore. It’s time for a legion of patriotic Illinoisans to rise up and save our state.”
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From the time Rauner announced his candidacy for governor in June 2014, he and his largely self-funded campaign directly gave the state GOP more than $36.8 million. That’s nearly two-thirds of the $58 million the state GOP collected over the same time period.
Rauner’s contributions to the state party actually were greater, since funds he and his campaign gave to other entities, such as the House Republican Organization and the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee, often were channeled into the Illinois GOP.
In its last filing with the State Board of Elections, the state GOP reported having $88,412 in cash on hand as of June 30. Rauner’s last donation to the state party, totaling $100,000, came two days after Democrat J.B. Pritzker defeated him for governor, 55% to 39%.
Pritzker’s victory has turned the tables on Republicans. The Democrat is the country’s wealthiest politician, worth $3.4 billion and ranking 250th on the Forbes 400 list of wealthy Americans. President Donald Trump comes in at 275th on the list with a net worth of $3.1 billion.
Pritzker gave his campaign $172 million and his campaign fund has given the state Democratic Party nearly $3.2 million, state campaign finance records show.