“He was a god in that district,” a high-level Rauner guy told me about state Senator Sam McCann’s poll numbers from before this year’s Republican-primary campaign began.
Benchmark polling taken months ago showed McCann (R-Plainview) had a voter-approval rating of about 70 percent. McCann “really was everywhere” in the Downstate district, attending events all over the place throughout his tenure, the Rauner official admitted.
Looking at those initial numbers, “you’d have to be crazy” to take McCann on, the official said. But the governor had threatened to punish any Republican who voted with AFSCME on a now-infamous bill that would have barred a state-employee strike and instead forced binding arbitration. McCann was the only Republican to vote against Rauner, so a massive game plan was devised.
What followed was the most expensive Republican legislative-primary race in the history of Illinois. In the past, the million dollars or so raised and spent by and on behalf of McCann would’ve dropped jaws everywhere. But McCann’s million was less than a quarter of the race’s $4.2-million grand total.
Even so, McCann defeated his Rauner-backed opponent, Bryce Benton, by more than 5 points.