IEA Endorsement

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard speaks at a press conference announcing the endorsement of the Illinois Education Association in the 2014 campaign for the GOP nomination for Governor. IEA president Cinda Klickna, left, joins Dillard. (Heather Charles, Chicago Tribune / February 14, 2014)

Republican governor candidate Kirk Dillard today got the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Muncipal Employees Council 31, firmly establishing himself as the public union’s pick against frontrunner Bruce Rauner.

Dillard, a state senator from Hinsdale, previously received the backing of the state’s two major teacher unions — the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

AFSCME, the teachers’ unions, the Service Employees International Union and the Democratic Governors Association have mounted a multi-million dollar political action committee airing television ads to try to counter the wealthy Rauner’s massive TV-based campaign.

Rauner has made attacks on “government union bosses” a centerpiece of his first-time bid for public office. Dillard, who lost the 2010 GOP governor nomination to state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington by 193 votes, has accused Rauner of demonizing public employee unions.

Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, said in a statement that Dillard “rejects the demonization of public employees” and has “a long record of public service.”

Dillard voted against the state's new sweeping law to curb public employee pension benefits. Brady, who voted for it, has contended Dillard "sold out" his vote for political support --- a charge Dillard has denied.

Dillard indicated earlier this week he would not seek the support of the SEIU. But the combination of AFSCME, IEA and IFT could provide the funding Dillard has needed to begin some limited television advertising.

On Tuesday, the political arm of the IEA gave Dillard $150,000 — bringing to $250,000 the union’s total donations to him. That’s what the IEA gave him four years ago in his losing cause.

Also running in the March 18 GOP primary race are Sen. Brady and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa.