Some two dozen union members lined up outside John Deere Pavilion on Monday morning. They brought signs to protest Bruce Rauner.
Rauner is the wealthy Republican venture capitalist leading the pack for a chance to unseat Governor Pat Quinn.
“We don’t want a billionaire running the state of Illinois,” said Carlene Erno, AFSCME Local 2615.
But as the Rauner campaign bus rolled back into Moline — and carefully avoided any protesters — it’s clear he’s on a mission to shake up Springfield.
“There’s a new day coming in Illinois,” he told a few dozen supporters during a brief stop inside.
That angers unions enough that some might even cross party lines just for the primary to vote for Rauner opponent Kirk Dillard.
“The special interest groups that like the status quo, they’re upset,” Rauner said. “They like the current system. It’s failing, but they’re making money from it.”
The well-known money, tax and unemployment problems in Illinois may make Democrats more vulnerable in November. That’s why unions have spent more than $3.5 million to defeat Rauner in Tuesday’s primary.
“There’s plenty of people out here supporting us,” said Ken Larson, AFGE Local 2119. “State and federal workers are very valuable to the economy.”
It’s not stopping Rauner, who vows to “sweep Pat Quinn into the dust bin of history.”
“We’re going to take them on,” Rauner said. “We’re going to change the system, so it’s run for all the voters and taxpayers again.”
That doesn’t sit well with unions, which see Rauner as a threat and repeat of what happened in bordering Wisconsin.
“He said it,” Erno said. “He will do it. I have no doubt in my mind that he wants to be the Scott Walker of Illinois.”
“That’s why they’re talking about crossing over,” Rauner continued. “That’s why they’re attacking us. But their strategies won’t work. The voters like our message.”
A message that will get its first big test by getting out the vote for Tuesday’s Illinois Primary.