The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 recently announced plans to spend an amount described as “six figures” to promote the Libertarian Party’s IL gubernatorial candidate Chad Grimm.
By Barry Donegan @ Ben Swann
In Illinois, the 2014 governor’s race is heating up in anticipation of election day on November 4. The race pits incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn against Republican Bruce Rauner and Libertarian Party candidate Chad Grimm. The Constitution Party’s candidate, Mike Oberline, was kicked from the ballot after Republicans challenged the signatures on his ballot access petition, setting the stage for a three-way race. Currently, Quinn and Rauner are neck-and-neck, as the wealthy Republican challenger has spent upwards of $20 million on his own campaign.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, strange bedfellows have emerged in IL’s tight gubernatorial contest. While labor unions are hardly known for their staunch support of libertarian causes, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 recently spent $30,000 lining the campaign war chest of Libertarian Party candidate Chad Grimm in what has been seen as an effort to soften the Republican Rauner’s support among right-leaning politicos. Additionally, Rich Miller at Capitol Fax reports that the union intends to spend significantly more money on behalf of the Libertarian through an independent expenditure campaign of its own. Miller wrote, “Asked about rumors that his union would spend between $200,000 and $250,000 to push the pro-gun, pro-life Grimm with traditional Republican voters against the much more liberal Rauner, [International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 president Jim] Sweeney replied ‘More.’ Asked if the budget was six figures or seven, Sweeney said ‘Six.’” Miller’s report notes that the union plans to spend the funds on direct mail and robocall campaigns on behalf of Grimm.
Responding to claims that the labor union’s financial support is being given in an effort to split Republican votes, Grimm said, “I thought it was genuine, and I don’t see it as being a problem.” Considering the facts that the Republican Rauner is pro-choice and failed to garner the National Rifle Association’s support as he has yet to return the organization’s issue position questionnaire, Grimm, who is already polling at 5-8%, could pick up significant support from conservatives.
The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 released a statement explaining the motive behind its plan, “While a majority of our Illinois membership has indicated its support for Governor Pat Quinn, we are committed to offer a viable choice for members who do not support Democrats. Nearly half of our members in Illinois pull Republican ballots in a typical primary election, so it is important that these members have the opportunity to back a candidate that will not attack their livelihood… The stakes in this election are too high for any union members to sit out. That is why Local 150 has actively supported the right of ‘third parties’ to be on the ballot this fall.” The union also supported Grimm’s efforts to gain ballot access in the face of Republican attempts to challenge his nominating petition and drive him off the ballot.
Grimm, a 33-year-old health club manager and business owner from Peoria, described his opponents Quinn and Rauner in comments to the Chicago Sun-Times, “Neither of them is going to do anything to fundamentally change the direction of the state.” In the above-embedded video provided by Fox News, Chad Grimm said that he decided to run for governor because he “got sick of living in the most corrupt state in the union.” If he attains over 5% support in the election, the Libertarian Party will be considered an established party in terms of achieving ballot access in Illinois’ next election.