Illinois Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner's last chance at getting term limits on the November ballot may come to an end Friday, the last day the Illinois State Board of Elections has to certify the November ballot.
Rauner, who is challenging incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, has made term limits a key cornerstone of his campaign. The Illinois businessman, who is chairman of the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, delivered nearly 600,000 signatures to have a term-limit initiative holding Illinois politicians to eight years in office on the ballot. However, it was struck down.
Rauner's term-limit issue was first struck down in a Cook County courtroom before ultimately being turned down by a Chicago-based appellate court. The courts have said the petition doesn't fall within the narrow window available for petition-driven amendments to the state's constitution.
Now Rauner and his supporters are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to jump into the legal tug-of-war as the clock winds down.
"The people deserve to have their voices heard," Rauner said. "The Illinois Supreme Court should not ignore the people of Illinois."
This week, Rauner asked his legal team to file an immediate appeal with the state Supreme Court to take up the issue, and with a Friday deadline to certify the ballot, the Republican candidate is hopeful the court will act soon.
"Time is running out — the Illinois Supreme Court needs to take the case," Rauner said earlier this week.
If the Illinois State Supreme Court ultimately decides to take up the case and rule against Rauner and his supporters, it won't be the end of the term-limit debate. Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Ill., is a major opponent of term limits, and some political observers in the state believe Rauner can use that to his advantage in campaign messaging.
"Rauner will blame the Democrats and the Democratic court for keeping his key initiative off the ballot," said James Nowlan, an Illinois political observer. "Just as the Democrats are trying to turn out voters with ballot initiatives, I think having term limits on the ballot would be helpful in that regard for Rauner."
In April, Quinn said he supported term limits for Illinois politicians, but he has criticized the way Rauner has gone about the issue. However, instead of focusing on term limits in campaign ads, Quinn has hit Rauner on his wealth, taxes and overseas investments, and it's taking a toll on Rauner's overall lead.
A poll out this week shows Rauner with a three-point lead. That's down from larger leads he has enjoyed throughout most of the summer months.