In Ill. primaries, Governor Rauner faces intense in-party challe -

In Ill. primaries, Governor Rauner faces intense in-party challenge

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(Credit: AP) (Credit: AP)

ST. LOUIS ( -- The Illinois primaries are Tuesday, and Governor Bruce Rauner is facing an unusual challenge from within his own party.

Divisions and disappointments among Republicans have now boiled over into what's become a nasty primary battle between Rauner and challenger Jeanne Ives.

"This campaign is built on turning Illinois upside down." Ives aid at a recent campaign stop in Cahokia.

Ives, from suburban Chicago, explained she entered the race specifically because of Rauner and his policies.

"Something has to change, something has to change and it's not happening with this governor,” she said. “He promised us a conservative reform governorship and all we got were the policies of an Ivy League professor. That's what we got with Bruce Rauner."

Ives’ candidacy is a challenge from the far right, and the brutal campaign has drawn criticism. Ives took heat for a sarcastic ad attacking the governor in which a man dressed in women’s clothing thanked Rauner for approving legislation which allowed the man “to use the girl’s bathroom.”

But Rauner has countered with his own attack ads, saying Ives brags about Mike Madigan (Democrat Speaker of the Illinois House) voting for her bills, and saying she took money from Madigan’s “cronies” while being in favor of higher taxes.

Rauner is near the end of his first term as governor and his political battles with Democratic leaders in Springfield have led to years with no budget and political gridlock, along with a worsening state debt problem.  

As a Republican governor in a blue state, Rauner- even as an incumbent- is now facing a challenge he likely didn't expect.

Among the leading Democrats is billionaire J.B. Pritzker, who filed paperwork late Friday showing he gave his campaign an additional $6.3 million, bringing his total investment to almost $70 million.

Democrat Chris Kennedy gave his campaign another $500,000 this week, for a total of about $2 million.

State Sen. Daniel Biss, campaigning as the "middle-class candidate," says the spending has reached "new levels of absurdity."

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