CHICAGO – The Republican field for the 2014 Illinois governor's race began to crystalize Monday as two candidates announced their running mates through social media just before the first day that candidate petitions can be circulated.
Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford announced through Twitter that Chicago attorney Steve Kim is his lieutenant governor pick, while state Sen. Kirk Dillard used Instagram to announce he'd chosen state Rep. Jil Tracy of Quincy.
For days, Rutherford had been dropping Twitter hints about the 42-year-old attorney who lives in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook. Kim has served as a Northfield township trustee and unsuccessfully challenged Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2010.
"He comes from having been on the statewide stage before," Rutherford told The Associated Press. The Chenoa Republican said his first priority was choosing someone who could succeed him if he wins. Rutherford said he would release more details Thursday at a news conference.
Dillard posted the news in a laid back Instagram video — he's wearing a Chicago Bears jersey — where he describes Tracy as "a respected business woman and respected legislator."
The Hinsdale Republican was set to go on a statewide fly around with Tracy on Tuesday — the first day that candidate petitions can be circulated. Tracy first took office in 2006 and serves on a bipartisan pension panel tasked with coming up with a solution to the state's nearly $100 billion crisis.
"It is very exciting to join the ticket as your running mate for lieutenant governor, looking forward to working side by side with you for this great state," she says in her own short Instagram video.
The other gubernatorial candidates have said they're not in a rush to make their choices public, including Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka and Chicago Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and his Democratic challenger, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley. Republican Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington said Monday that it'll be a few more weeks before he announces a choice.
It's the first time that candidates for governor will run with their lieutenant governor choices. The change when it was revealed after the 2010 primary that the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor — Scott Lee Cohen — had past troubles including domestic battery charge. Cohen dropped out after pressure from Democratic leaders, who feared it would hurt Quinn.
Rutherford said he considered Kim's business experience and his background.
Kim is a managing partner at Rosenberg Kim & Jimenez, Ltd., which does international and trade law and business development law, among other areas. Kim is also Korean American. He immigrated with his family as a young boy and is a U.S. citizen.
Rutherford said Kim has the ability to reach out to Illinois' diverse residents, particularly the growing Asian population.
"We're a state where there is a very strong and vital immigrant community," Kim said, adding that his family's immigration story was one that would resonate with many groups.
Kim declined to talk specifics on where he stands on issues, like gay marriage, saying that he still formulating his opinions.
He said his focus is improving Illinois' business climate.
"I understand how to create jobs," he said. "I strongly believe the climate in Illinois is not right now best suited for jobs and economic growth. We can change that."