House hopeful sees good, bad in Ives running against Rauner
Dan Caulkins has a tough decision to make.
Caulkins, who recently launched his campaign to replace retiring Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) in the 101st District, said he was at first shocked when he heard that Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) is seriously considering challenging Gov. Bruce Rauner in the GOP primary.
“At this point, I don’t know who I will be supporting,” Caulkins told the Macon Reporter. “I think Jeanne Ives is a worthy challenger, and it’s something I still have to consider.”
In confirming that she plans to circulate petitions aimed at solidifying her place in the race, Ives said she is intent on “restoring common sense” to state government.
The announcement comes as Rauner faces heated criticism over his decision to support legislation such as the “sanctuary state” bill that limits cooperation between the state and federal authorities in the deportation of illegal immigrants, and the abortion-expansion bill that allows Medicaid recipients and state workers to receive state-funded abortions for any reason and at any point in their pregnancy.
Caulkins said it's crucial that Republicans keep the big picture in mind.
“The thing that concerns me is that the person who wins the primary still be in position to win the governor’s mansion,” he said. “Our goal still has to be to maintain control of the governor’s office, take control of the House and replace (House Speaker Mike) Madigan.
"That will allow us to start attracting businesses instead of driving them away. If we have any hope of reviving the economy and turning the state around, we have to focus on the end game.”
Caulkins said history shows that when an incumbent for statewide office faces a primary challenger, the party tends to fragment.
“And all the recent controversies involving the governor may make this situation even more different from others,” he said. “He may have been able to overcome the disappointment some in the party felt over the sanctuary bill, but with the abortion bill, I just don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Ives has a reputation of transparency and a history of fighting for issues such as tax reform, term limits and school choice.
Ives, a mother of five and West Point grad, has pegged former Rock Island state Rep. Rich Morthland as her running mate and Chicago GOP Chairman Chris Cleveland as her campaign manager.
As for his own campaign, Caulkins said he’s still focusing on building coalitions and greater recognition for himself in the district.
“I have my own record, and that’s what I’m running on,” Caulkins, a former Decatur councilman, said.
Candidates for state office in Illinois must file their candidacy paperwork by December 4.
The 101st District spans parts of Decatur and Logan counties.