Gov. Bruce Rauner appeared with one lawmaker and three legislative candidates in Springfield Wednesday as each signed a pledge saying they backed term limits for state elected officials.
Rauner, at the campaign event at Selvaggio Steel, said he believes “everyone should serve for only 8 years statewide, 10 years in the General Assembly.”
The pledge actually calls for no more than 8 years in office for “all elected officials in state government,” and Rauner campaign spokesman Will Allison said later the governor misspoke – limits being sought are 8 years for legislators as well.
When asked whether he thought that House GOP Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs, who has been in the House for a total of more than 20 years, should be eligible for speaker, Rauner said only that he wants somebody other than Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.
Rauner has told GOP groups across the state that he hopes Republicans can pick up nine seats in the House in the November election, wresting control from Democrats.
Rauner did not say, when asked repeatedly Wednesday, if lawmakers should vote for Durkin for speaker if the GOP does gain control.
“What I want is somebody other than Mike Madigan,” Rauner said. “He’s been in the General Assembly since 1971. That is corruption at its core.”
Durkin was in the Illinois House from January 1995 to January 2003. He lost a U.S. Senate race in 2002 to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, of Springfield. He then re-entered the House in January 2006 and has been there ever since.
At the Springfield event, the pledge – to support term limits for state officials and to vote for anyone but Madigan for speaker – was signed by state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, who is unopposed for re-election in the 87th House District; and GOP candidates Steve McClure, who is unopposed in the 50th Senate District; Mike Murphy of Springfield, who is running against Democrat Marc Bell of Springfield in the 99th House District; and Springfield Ward 2 Ald. Herman Senor, who is running against Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, and write-in candidate Gary Pierce in the 96th House District.
Durkin also signed the pledge at an earlier event and has introduced constitutional amendments that would impose term limits.
The text of the pledge, like Rauner in many public appearances, attacks politicians from the state’s largest city.
“... [F]or decades in Illinois, the Chicago political machine has run roughshod over the people, cutting sweetheart deals for entrenched special interests and abusing the power of the incumbency to keep career politicians in office,” it states in part.
Steve Brown, spokesman for Madigan, said later the pledge sounds similar to the “magic formula” that Rauner has been using for months, leaving him 16 points behind his Democratic opponent for governor, J.B. Pritzker, in a recent poll.
“It’s just another low-road smear attempt that’s apparently failing him,” Brown said.
Butler said he has voted for Durkin for speaker and would do so again, as a term-limit plan would need time to take effect.
“You’re not going to kick people out of office,” Butler said.
Murphy also said he would vote for Durkin, if given the chance.
“I’m going to play by the rules that we have in force right now,” Murphy said.
And, said Senor of Durkin: “He hasn’t been the speaker of the House, so I would give him the chance to be speaker of the House.”