Pat Conklin’s days of supporting Gov. Bruce Rauner ended when the state's leader signed abortion expansion bill HB 40 into law.
“Going forward, we would not support him,” Conklin told the West Central Reporter. “We very much favor a primary challenger, one who would uphold the Republican Platform and honor promises made to the voters. If the Republican Party runs Rauner, we feel there is no way they can win the governorship in the next election.”
Conklin, who runs the anti-abortion group Knox County Right to Life along with her husband, Dick, stopped short of saying the group plans to campaign against Rauner in 2018.
Gov. Bruce Rauner
“Knox County Right to Life does not tell voters how to vote,” she said. “However, we do educate them as to how the various candidates stand on issues that are important to them and to our organization.”
Rauner has drawn the wrath of many conservatives over the new law, which allows Illinois residents on Medicaid or working for the state to receive free abortions for any reason until the last day of their pregnancy.
Conklin estimates that the law will increase abortions by as much as 12,000, all at the expense of taxpayers.
“We feel betrayed,” Conklin said. “We knew that Gov. Rauner was not a social conservative, but we certainly felt he would uphold the Republican platform and honor a promise that he made. We worked to elect Rauner, a Republican candidate, and then he went against us.”
While running in 2014, Rauner vowed that he would “have no social agenda” if elected but also has argued that he has always supported abortion rights.
Conklin points to a pledge she said Rauner made to veto HB40 in early April as further evidence of a betrayal.
"We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion,” she said. “His signing it after making this public promise was inconceivable and makes it impossible to trust his word going forward.”