McKenna to join race for Ill. governor

September 17, 2009 The former head of the state GOP has tossed his hat into the ring and another candidate for governor is now seeking to run for lieutenant governor.

Both Andrew McKenna and Illinois senator Matt Murphy were unavailable for comment.

McKenna would not return our phone calls and Murphy we're told was downstate on a campaign tour. But the former state chairman's reported intent to run for governor is all the talk in Republican circles on Thursday, not a full month after McKenna appeared to leave the public stage.

McKenna resigned as Illinois party chairman on Republican day at the state fair saying it was best for the party.

"I think this is about winning in November," said McKenna.

Sometime between then and Wednesday the Morton Grove lawyer apparently cut a deal with State Senator Matt Murphy of Palatine - that Murphy would switch his candidacy from governor to lieutenant governor and that McKenna, who lost a primary race for the U.S. Senate in 2004, would run for the state's top executive office.

"I was surprised that Mr. McKenna got into the race. However, I welcome the Cook County duo to the race for governor. Both of these gentlemen hail from the county of Cook and normally you have a more geographically balanced ticket," said State Sen. Kirk Dillard, (R) Candidate for Governor

Naperville's Kirk Dillard is one of five previously announced candidates for governor, joining Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington, DuPage County chairman Bob Schillerstrom and Chicago area businessmen Adam Andrzejewski and Dan Proft. Proft called McKenna the candidate of the wealthy insiders who control Illinois politics.

"This means the bipartisan combine that has run this state for 30 years and run it into the ground is now introducing a candidate into the republican primary because that's who Andy McKenna represents," said Dan Proft, (R) candidate for governor.

The millionaire McKenna is the son of Schwarz Paper Company owner Andrew McKenna, Sr. who has been a major contributor to candidates of both parties. That could bode well for Andrew, Jr., a political moderate.

Brady, the conservative, self-described frontrunner in the race, said most Republicans will not support the newest candidate because of the disappointing job McKenna did as party chairman.

"We don't have one constitutional office. We have lost seats in both the House and Senate. We've lost congressional seats. These are the benchmarks we look at. We've lost," said State Sen. Bill Brady, (R) candidate for governor.

Andrew McKenna was unavailable for comment.

ABC7 has learned that several top staffers at the state Republican party will leave their jobs to join McKenna's campaign.

Mr. McKenna knows where the Republican money is for the campaign and that could be to his advantage at least in the near term.

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