ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Grundy County State's Attorney Jason Helland is preparing to announce his campaign to run against Democratic Secretary of State Jesse White.
"I met with Governor Rauner's campaign staff," Helland told WCIA Wednesday night, "and after thorough discussion, ultimately, I made the decision to go for it."
Helland is supremely confident his campaign will secure the public support and financial backing of the Republican Governor and the state party.
"I have reason to believe [Rauner's endorsement] is a done deal," Helland said.
WCIA was first to report of Helland's interest in the position.
If he can secure enough votes to win the primary, he would face an undefeated opponent in White.
"I think it's a winnable race," Helland said, adding, "Nobody gets excited when somebody runs for the same office six times in a row. I agree with the governor on term limits."
Asked if he agrees with Rauner on his recent signing of a controversial abortion measure, Helland replied, "That's not something I take any position on."
Helland boasts of a résumé that includes two electoral victories, including one in which he claims he was outspent by his opponent by a ratio of four to one. He ousted incumbent Democrat John Bates in that 2012 election by a margin of better than 10 percent.
Helland isn't the only Republican eager to take a swipe at White in the general election. Democrat-turned-Republican Joshua Griffin, a 28-year-old Air Force veteran is also jockeying for a chance to enter the race, although some party leaders remain skeptical about his lack of experience and question his loyalty to the party.
Helland encouraged his primary opponent to get more political experience before running for such a powerful office, advising Griffin, "At least run for county dog catcher successfully. To go from zero experience to a statewide campaign, I wouldn't put myself in that position."
Griffin declined to comment, but did confirm he still intends to run for the same office.
While Republicans are struggling to find a candidate willing to challenge incumbent Comptroller Susana Mendoza, the party has the first statewide primary battle in the offing.
Speculation continues to surface that an ambitious pro-union or social conservative could also rise up to challenge Governor Rauner. While several have voiced their displeasure with his first term in office, none have yet to officially throw down the electoral gauntlet.
Urbana attorney and 2003 Miss America champion Erika Harold is the lone Republican running for Attorney General, sporting the endorsements of dozens of high profile party leaders.
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