Proxy Fight Pits McCann Vs. Benton

Mar 11, 2016

A Republican state legislative race in west-central Illinois has become a test of Governor Bruce Rauner's reach.

Back in August, the Illinois Senate took a vote on legislation Gov. Rauner called the worst he'd ever seen. The union-backed bill would allow state labor contract disputes to go to arbitration. Sen. Sam McCann was the only Republican to vote in favor of it.

He says that's the reason he's facing a primary. And not just any primary -- political action committees with ties to Rauner have spent some $2.5 million dollars against McCann.

"I think the people of this district are going to speak loudly and clearly and they're going to tell some of the leadership within the Republican Party that this district can't be bought," McCann said. "They're going to tell these big-money people from Chicago to take their money and go back home after this election."

Illinois state trooper Bryce Benton is vying for the Republican nomination for the 50th state senate district.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

But his opponent, state trooper Bryce Benton, says McCann's got it wrong. "Sen. McCann would have everyone believe that he has a primary because of one vote," Benton said. "In reality I'm in this race because people deserve a consistent, conservative Republican."

Benton -- who has Rauner's official endorsement -- says he doesn't agree with all of Gov. Rauner's agenda, but he says he appreciates that Illinois has a leader who's trying to solve the state's budget mess.