(MCT) PONTIAC — Max Reeser of Pontiac remembers Dan Rutherford as his a youth who worked hard as a paperboy delivering The Pantagraph. Even then, he stood out as someone who was going to be special, Reeser said. The paper was always in the right spot, every day.
Reeser was among approximately 400 supporters who showed up at the Livingston County Courthouse Sunday afternoon as Rutherford became the first Republican to formally announce that he’s seeking the GOP nomination in the 2014 governor’s race.
“He will win and he will do a great job,” Reeser said.
During his 14-minute speech, Rutherford talked often about his Livingston County roots and how his parents instilled a strong work ethic in him, particularly after they opened a pizza restaurant in Pontiac.
“My family is from modest means, but we did well because we worked hard,” he said. “I am going to use what my Mom and Dad taught me about working hard to change our state.”
Hard work was a theme throughout his announcement, and Rutherford acknowledged that winning a primary and a general election will not be easy.
“We will be outspent in the primary, but we will not be outworked,” he said. “We will have an uphill climb in the general election, but we have a path and we will win.”
Rutherford was joined by seven family members on a temporary stage outside of the Livingston County Courthouse. His mother, Carol, and his sister, Debi Foreno, were among those who joined him on stage and said they were proud of Rutherford.
“Dan went from standing on wood pop crates to wash dishes at Mom and Dad’s pizza restaurant, Carol’s Pizza Pan, to cruising around and around Mr. Quick’s and this square on a Saturday night,” Foreno said. “I wondered if Dan ever dreamed while circling this courthouse, that someday, he would be standing here before this crowd, ready to announce the next chapter in his life.”
“My brother is my rock, honest, caring and always putting others first. His family could not be prouder of him. I know he will make our family proud,” she said.
Rutherford was formally introduced by his mother.
“When he asked me to introduce him, I thought, ‘Oh boy, what has he gotten himself into now?’” she said. “As a mother, I worry about this task. We all know he will have his work cut out for him, and we also know he will make us all proud.”
The 58-year-old is expected to face several challenges in what could become a crowded GOP race.
Other potential candidates include wealthy hedge fund manager Bruce Rauner of Chicago and state Sens. Bill Brady of Bloomington and Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has indicated he intends to run for re-election. Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have said they are considering challenging Quinn in a Democratic primary.
Rutherford was elected to the Illinois House in 1992 and moved to the Senate in 2003 and was the only Republican to win statewide office when he was elected treasurer in the fall of 2010.
Rutherford’s stop in Springfield was one of 13 on a three-day tour across the state. He made the initial formal announcement on his website and then made appearances at Harry Caray’s in Chicago and at Mugz’s Hideout in Channahon. He wrapped up the day with a stop at the American Legion in Springfield.
Visits today include Springfield, Marion, Cahokia, Quincy and Milan. On Tuesday, he will visit Rockford, Peoria, Savoy, and Kankakee.
But the ability to make the announcement in Pontiac was a dream come true, Rutherford said.
“I’m at home. Livingston County is my home,” he said. “These are people I went to school with. My family is here. These are people who came to my Mom and Dad’s restaurant when I was 8 years old.
“There is something about being around your friends and family to make this type of monumental declaration, and I am going to need their help. Not just political help and financial contribution help, but I am going to need their emotional help, because it’s hard.
“I know I am going to have heartbreaks and I know my Mom and my sister and my family are going to see stuff on commercials and get stuff in the mail and it’s going to be hard. But, we have a path to follow to victory and we will follow that path.”
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