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Treasurer Dan Rutherford seeks voters' opinions on gubernatorial run

(MCT) — State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, long mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for governor, used the Web and social media Sunday to urge supporters to sign up for a possible 2014 race for Illinois chief executive.

Rutherford's website asks visitors, "Would you support Dan Rutherford for governor of Illinois?" It also promotes a statement from the first-term treasurer and former state lawmaker in which he says, "Now is the time for leaders to act with conviction and courage."

"Through wise stewardship, we can eliminate our massive debt, fund our liabilities, build an environment that job-creators are seeking and provide financial security for taxpayers," Rutherford said. "Illinois is indeed broke — but our great state is not beyond repair."

Rutherford, 57, of Chenoa, said the use of his website, Facebook and Twitter was not a formal announcement.

"I've had a lot of people say, 'You ought to be in.' And if people want to sign up and show their support, that would help me evaluate," Rutherford said. "It was posted on a Sunday morning, but within nine minutes ... 40 people signed up."

Rutherford said he believes that after hard-fought contests for president, Congress and the state Legislature last month, Illinois residents aren't ready for another campaign to begin. Instead, he indicated any formal announcement would occur after the Jan. 21 presidential inaugural festivities in Washington.

Several Republicans already have expressed interest in the upcoming governor's race, most notably state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, who was narrowly defeated by state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington in the 2010 GOP governor primary.

Dillard has been traveling the state seeking support for a bid, while Brady, who lost to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn two years ago, has expressed interest in a third try. Also considering a bid for governor is U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria, a former state representative first elected to Congress in 2008. Chicago businessman Bruce Rauner also has been mentioned as a potential candidate.

Rutherford, who served as Illinois chairman of Republican Mitt Romney's failed White House effort, has been an aggressive fundraiser. On Monday, he is holding a Springfield fundraising event with tickets ranging from $125 to $2,500.

Quinn has indicated that he's likely to run for re-election to the office he first gained after the impeachment of imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But Quinn also may face a primary, a challenge boosted by an October Tribune/WGN-TV poll that found his job approval rating at only 26 percent. Still, Quinn's job approval rating in a similar poll conducted weeks before the 2010 election was 28 percent, and he defeated Brady.

2nd Congressional District date set

On Sunday, Quinn signed into law a measure that officially moves to April 9 the special general election for deciding a replacement for former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in the 2nd Congressional District. With the special primary election in the heavily Democratic district set for Feb. 26, both elections now coincide with previously scheduled municipal elections in portions of the district outside Chicago. That will save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Former state lawmaker Robin Kelly of Matteson formally kicked off her Democratic bid for the office Sunday. Democratic state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields is scheduled to do so Monday.

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