Rauner courts business vote during Rock Island stop

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Business is good these days at Gray Machine and Welding in Rock Island. But owner Hank Gray will tell you that the state of Illinois government is something else.

"Fees in this state are just out of sight," he said.

After a recent business expansion, the 40-year-old firm nearly left Illinois for Iowa.

"It's just a different world over there," Gray said. "(Iowa) is business friendly. This state is not business friendly right now."

That's a big reason why Bruce Rauner came to shake hands. The Chicago-based Republican is leading a pack of four challengers in the bid to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn.

Rauner thinks that business policy is one way to shake up Springfield.

"The business climate is hostile," he said. "The taxes are too high. The regulations are bad. And we're seeing companies leaving. We've got to turn this around."

Rauner is the clear frontrunner in recent polling. Fellow Republicans Bill Brady, Dan Rutherford and Kirk Dillard are all in the race to the Illinois Primary on March 18.

"Our message is resonating," Rauner said. "We're all about more jobs, lower taxes, better schools and term limits."

A downstate business like Gray Machine and Welding is important to candidates like Rauner. It's a chance to line up support just before the March vote.

Hank Gray is undecided right now, but he does agree that it's time for a change. He's looking for a pro-business candidate.

"That's what supports everything is business," he concluded. "That's where the income comes from."

This Rock Island business can't afford to wait much longer.