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Rauner brings campaign to Orland Park

Republican candidate for Republican for Governor slot upcoming primary Bruce Rauner spoke mostly elderly white crowd Fox's Pub OrlPark Monday

Republican candidate for the Republican for Governor slot in the upcoming primary, Bruce Rauner spoke to a mostly elderly and white crowd at Fox's Pub in Orland Park on Monday 3/3/14. | John Booz/for the Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 5, 2014 6:28AM



Robert Bettinardi is doubling the size of his Tinley Park business, which makes high-end golf putters and saw a 38 percent jump in sales last year while hiring 35 more workers during the last two years.

But on Monday, after presenting one of his putters to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner during a campaign stop in Orland Park, Bettinardi said Illinois could do much more to help businesses such as his succeed.

“I feel I could grow more and be more successful if (Gov. Pat) Quinn and the state were more pro-business,” he said after Rauner’s visit to Fox’s Restaurant and Pub, 9655 W. 143rd St.

Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist who polls show is leading the GOP race for governor, was making stops Monday in northern Illinois during the first day of early voting for the March 18 primary election.

He hammered away at the state’s economic condition, telling the crowd, wooed in part by the promise of free pizza, that “business owners are leaving, executives are leaving” and taking jobs out of Illinois.

“We can’t solve any of our problems unless we’re a growth state,” Rauner said.

Bettinardi said he almost joined the exodus, particularly after legislators in 2011 temporarily increased personal and corporate income tax rates.

“That makes you not want to reinvest in your company. It makes you want to just hunker down,” he said.

Indiana came calling, trying to persuade Bettinardi Golf to relocate, and Bettinardi said he “thought about it hot and heavy.”

Those income tax increases gradually will roll back, starting next January, unless the Legislature extends them, as some are proposing in light of Illinois’ huge budget deficit.

Rauner said that, if elected, he would favor a “fundamental overhaul” of Illinois’ tax code, coupled with spending cuts.

Rauner also is spearheading an effort for a statewide referendum in November that would ask voters whether state elected officials should be limited to eight years in office.

Facing an early May deadline to get the question on the ballot, supporters have collected about 275,000 of the needed 300,000 signatures, Rauner said. He said that thousands more signatures than required would be gathered to defend against potential legal challenges to the petitions.

“We will get that done,” he said of the term limit effort. “I promise you, I will get that done.”

Jack Mejdrich, a retiree from Tinley Park, said after Rauner’s talk that he was leaning toward voting for him over his three GOP challengers in the primary.

“I don’t know where he’s going to go, but it sounds like he’s got a good start,” Mejdrich said. “I’ve got a gut feeling he’s going to win.”



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