Only Rauner, advisers know why there's no Ives debate, Wilcox says
Craig Wilcox said only Gov. Bruce Rauner and his closest advisers know exactly why the governor has denied debating Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) before the GOP primary.
“Some possibilities might include advisers suggesting it would not be a wise re-election strategy, they might have concern that a debate might stir additional scrutiny on decisions he has made as governor,” Wilcox, the McHenry County Board member looking to replace Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) who is not seeking re-election in the 32nd District, told the Lake County Gazette.
Guest columnist Scott Reeder wrote in the Chicago Tribune that Rauner has refused multiple attempts to debate Ives. “The University of Illinois at Springfield, WMAY radio and the State Journal-Register tried to organize a GOP debate for next month, but according to the newspaper Rauner has indicated he won’t go,” Reeder wrote.
Wilcox said some reasons may be that Rauner is busy governing and campaigning, that he doesn't like debating, or it might not be his strong suit.
“As for myself, I would sooner leave the notion of why he chooses for or against a debate with Rep. Ives to Gov. Rauner to explain, but I do think he owes the voters a reason one way or the other,” Wilcox said.
Seeking the seat in the 32nd Senate District, which includes Marengo, Harvard, McHenry and Fox Lake, the retired Air Force colonel said debate between candidates is a focused way to educate the voter and is generally expected in races of such importance.
“I believe candidates’ views on the following three issues are critical to helping our voters make decisions: tax reform, specifically a 1 percent property tax cap proposition; pension reform and pathways to solve the unfunded liabilities for the state; and population loss reversal dependent on revised/reduced state spending plans,” Wilcox said.
Reeder said Rauner has called Ives a “fringe candidate.”
“Well, I know Ives and I respect her. She has six years of service in the Illinois General Assembly under her belt,” Reeder wrote. “That’s six more years of elected public service than Rauner had when he was running for governor four years ago. So, in that sense, she is less of a ‘fringe candidate’ than when the governor first ran.”
Ultimately, Wilcox said it’s not for him to speculate why the two will not go head-to-head before the primary.
“However, there may be a perceived advantage to Gov. Rauner choosing not to debate Rep. Ives, especially after the Tribune event,” Wilcox said.
Though Wilcox will not have to debate before the primary since his GOP opponent John Reinert withdrew, he would have been ready, he said.
"I pledge to remain true to the ideals of honest debate where we can discuss the issues respectfully and intelligently,” Wilcox said. "Let's debate professionally on the current needs of the state, on how to support families, and the pathways to achieve success."