SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State Sen. Sam McCann announced Thursday that he's running for Illinois governor as a Conservative Party candidate.
“When I announced I was not going to run for Senate, I said the Republican Party under (Gov. Bruce) Rauner was unrecognizable to me,” McCann said in a release. “Rauner has smeared the reputations of proven conservatives and abandoned the principles that millions of Illinois working families hold dear: economic liberty, traditional values, and law and order.”
Some policitians believe McCann will split the Republican vote with Rauner, making his battle for re-election much harder and helping Democratic nominee J.B. Pritzker. Others say McCann's opposition to public funding for abortions and the state's limited enforcement of illegal immigrants are not the only questions for voters.
Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, considers McCann a friend, but she said he may be seen as “a conservative Democrat” by those who know him best.
“You can never predict how he's going to vote,” Tracy said.
In the Republican caucus, McCann often has been asked what legislation he can support, but Tracy said until the vote occurs on the Senate floor nobody knows how McCann will vote.
“He certainly has been difficult to get along with in meetings on the Illinois Veterans Home, where he has been critical of the director of the Department of Public Health. Certainly it looks like his political motivation is to embarrass Bruce Rauner,” Tracy said.
McCann, 48, of Plainview, was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 2010, defeating incumbent Deanna Demuzio. He previously announced he would not seek re-election this year to the Senate, where he often clashed with Rauner. McCann had considered running against Rauner in the Republican primary but deferred to state Sen. Jeanne Ives, who came within three percentage points of defeating Rauner in March.
Rauner's and Pritzker's campaigns reacted to McCann's candidacy before the video announcement was released.
Rauner campaign communications director Will Allison cited bankruptcies by McCann, an erroneous report of serving in the Marine Corps and questions about campaign fund spending as reasons that McCann is not a serious candidate.
Pritzker said he welcomes “another voice to the race for governor” and repeated his campaign theme that “Rauner is a failed governor.”
McCann and his running mate, Aaron Merreighn of Riverton, must gather 25,000 valid signatures to make the ballot as Conservative Party candidates.