State Sen. Sam McCann is leaving the ILGOP to run as a "Conservative" Party candidate for governor. Is he doing so to win or just to increase JB's margin of victory over Gov. Bruce Rauner? Is a three-way race the only chance a downstate conservative has of winning the governorship? Sen. McCann joins Dan and Amy to discuss why he no longer associates himself with the Illinois Republican Party and what his new “Conservative” Party will campaign on.
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Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy. Who is losing population faster; Illinois, or the Illinois Republican Party? Jacobson: Hey-oh! Proft: Ehhh, it's interesting. We have...speaking of interesting...the governor's race just got a lot more interesting. You have Spalding. You have former... Jacobson: I haven't seen Spalding in a while! *chuckles* My kids asked if he DIED. Because, you know, he's been all over the airwaves for the past two years, and now he's gone and...you know, I mean they're taking a BREAK, obviously... Proft: Two years? It was like...four months. It just SEEMED like two years. Jacobson: It was...no, he started a LONG time ago! Proft: It wasn't TWO YEARS...*chuckling* Jacobson: He was dabbling, you know...him and children taking their food in the cafeteria... Proft: He was tired... Jacobson: ...and then walking down the street... Proft: He's gotta rest. It was physically exhausting for him, to spend...to write all those checks. But, so yes, Spalding, you've got former Governor Bruce Rauner, now you have state Senator Sam McCann, who's run several times, and won. Republican state Senator, downstate, Macoupin County. He has LEFT the Republican Party, and he has launched an independent campaign for Governor. He's gotta get 25,000 signatures to get on the ballot, and the filing is the last...the third week in June, that shouldn't be an issue. Sam McCann, here's a little piece of his announcement video yesterday. McCann (from tape): *slow inspirational trumpet and piano play throughout piece* They have failed us. Rauner and Chicago Democrats have led our state down the wrong path. Higher taxes, backward morals, and disregard for the rule of law is the Illinois they've created. It's time for a REAL transformation for the state of Illinois. I'm Sam McCann, and I'm running for Governor to put Illinois on a path to prosperity and promise. As Conservatives, we know and believe that you can't spend money you don't have, and that opportunity should exist for everyone, not just a chosen few. I'm running to restore what hard-working Illinoisans value the most: liberty, family values, and law and order. Proft: That music in the background... Jacobson: It's such a... Proft: You know what it conjures up to me? Jacobson: What? Proft: The convoy, the team bus and all the parents following... Jacobson: Oh, from "Hoosiers"? Proft: Following Hickory...yes! Game to game as they make their championship run! Jacobson: Well, the French horn is so profound in that piece. Proft: So, now in the interest of full disclosure, in my private life where I run this PAC, and support legislative candidates, and oppose other legislative candidates, in 2016 I allied with Governor Rauner, much to my ever-loving chagrin in retrospect, and backed a primary challenger to Sam McCann...for his state Senate seat, and Sam McCann won, and if I had it to do over again, I'd probably do it differently. But, but...we DO have some disagreements here, it's...but, it's a very interesting approach, and market positioning that Sam McCann is taking, as provided in that announcement video. But, for more specifics, we're pleased to be joined BY state Senator Sam McCann. Sam, thanks for being with us, appreciate it. McCann (Phone): Good morning, guys! Thanks for having me. Proft: So, you know...you kind of lay it out in your three-minute announcement video, but since we have the horse, let's get it right from his mouth. Why have you decided to leave the GOP and run against Rauner and Pritzker? McCann: Well, technically, we're in the PROCESS of leaving. We haven't really left, past tense. (Proft: Okay.) We're looking to form as a new Conservative Party, not running as an independent. (Proft: Okay.) We're looking to cause a paradigm shift, because it seems that the Republican Party has lost its way, it is totally unrecognizable to most of us, I think it's TOTALLY unrecognizable to most of us downstate into a good portion of the folks up in your area as well. So, what we're doing is forming...we're in the process of forming...the third party. I'm still the elected Republican sitting senator for the 50th District, until the...until the middle of January, 2019. (Proft: Right.) But what we are looking to do is be the next Governor of Illinois, move forward, move the state forward, and we're looking to bring people into this movement along the way. So if you're within the sound of my voice, give us a call, reach out, we would like to see you run for State Senate, State Rep, get involved up and down the ballot, across the state of Illinois. Jacobson: What is the name of your Party? McCann: It's the Conservative Party. Jacobson: So it's just the Conservative Party? Okay. Proft: So...so this is interest...I didn't appreciate this...so this is a conservative party, movement party, that you're starting, you're going to run under the Conservative banner for Governor, and you want to recruit people who will run under the Conservative banner for state offices, other than...you know, the legislative offices and the like? McCann: Well, of course, don't...I think that conservatives ought to have a voice in Illinois, and it seems to me that the two options they have now, neither one of those provide an adequate voice for conservatives in Illinois. Jacobson: What is your biggest point of contention with Governor Rauner and what he has done while in office? McCann: ...okay, well...how long do we have? *both laugh* Jacobson: Heh, okay. Proft: Alright, yeah...well...yeah, well... *dead air for a few seconds* Proft: Pick your top FIVE. McCann: Well yeah, okay, well, yes well, we could be here...I don't know how long this interview is scheduled to go, if this is a three-minute interview or a 30-minute interview. But I don't know where to begin, but I bet...I know, we could talk forever. From the transgender birth certificate bill, to a tax fund...taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, to the war on working people. You name it, we could...we could keep going...you revoke the right of conscience for health care providers. I mean, we're talking about a guy with an R after his name! Right? This is not Pat Quinn! This isn't Pritzker! This is a guy with an R after his name! And what's amazing to me is that the majority, albeit a SMALL majority, a small margin between Ives and Rauner, but the majority of Illinois Republicans say "Yeah, we're prepared to...we're prepared to follow this guy." Proft: Yeah, but here's the thing, Sam; it sounds kind of like you're running a Republican primary campaign in a general election, so is your candidacy... McCann: No, I'm...I'm...I'm running for the Conservative Party, because the Republican party has left, in Illinois anyway, I don't think nationally. I think nationally, the Republican Party is doing a pretty good job! I think President Trump is doing a great job, I think the Republican Party nationally...it's morning again in America. But in Ill...but in Illinois...I think... Proft: ...but let me (McCann: ...it's appalling.), let me ask you this though. Is it your estimation that the conservative base of the Republican Party is enough to win a three-way race for governor in a general election? McCann: You know, so...let me answer it this way. I would be the first to admit that a downstate conservative could not win a TWO-way race for governor of Illinois. Probably couldn't win a two-way race for any statewide office in Illinois, but certainly not governor, and I get that, totally. But I would also posit, that a three-way race might be the ONLY way a downstate conservative could. Proft: Now let me...let's go to an area where you know we have a disagreement, and this is on the public sector unions and some of the votes you've taken in particular with respect to collective bargaining rights, and the attempt to strip the governor of his collective bargaining rights with AFSCME a couple years back. And, do you see your apparent alliance with the public sector unions as one potential way to draw in people who may otherwise be considering voting for Pritzker? McCann: I think doing the right thing...shows. I mean, that's what I've heard, I mean that even though you disclosed it, and by the way Dan, I have no problem with you know...you and I have known each other for a number of years, not overly well, but we've known each other. (Proft: Yeah.) And we agree on a lot...I think we agree on the majority of issues. We disagree on a couple, this being one of them, but I did the right thing for my district, and my district responded, right? We won, and if I had not done the right thing, we wouldn't have won. And so, I think doing the right thing is always the right way to show the people that you are there for them, and not there for the party, not there for yourself, not there for a chosen few. And so yeah, I guess... Proft: But then (McCann: ...that still lingers.), I'm sorry, Sam, go ahead. McCann: No, so answering your question, yeah, I did what was best for my district, but ALSO, let's...let's talk about what that vote was, what that particular vote was. Because up until that point, up until that one particular vote, I had been with the Caucus 100%. 100%. I had voted with the Governor and the Republican Caucus 100%. Now there were a couple of those votes, up until that point, that I didn't really agree with. I thought that the Party, the Caucus, the governor was taking the wrong approach on these issues, you know it was the beginning of the budget stalemate standoff. But, I stuck with the Caucus. I told...I looked the governor in the eye, it's not like I held something, and voted out of left field. They knew it was coming for a couple of months, I looked the governor in the eye TWICE, just he and I, one on one, and told him what I was going to do, and...and said "You know, let's THINK about this. Is this the right approach?". So the vote that I took, it didn't...it didn't strip him of his rights to bargain...it's...when you say it that way, it's almost in a vacuum. You know, he ran on...they planted his platform and his campaign...was calling the AFSCME Union names, he said he would shut the government down if that's what it took to break them, and so on and so forth. So, he hadn't exactly set this jovial tone, he hadn't even really set a moderate tone, he set this tone of "I'm gonna go there and break that union." Proft: No, but I mean, but just getting beyond the tone to the substance of it, he is a proponent of Right to Work, and obviously the public sector unions and the trades are not, and you're not, and so that's a substantive disagreement, and you're not the only one who has that disagreement with him or with the proponents of Right to Work within the Republican Party or the Conservative movement within the state. But I guess my point is to say, so there's a substantive disagreement there on policy, and do you expect, or are you banking on as part of this to serve the interests of the public sector unions or the trade unions (McCann chuckles) or some combination there too on that issue? McCann: You know, I'm for working people, whether you're union, non-union, white collar, blue collar, public sector, private...private sector...I'm for working people, period end of story. I'm for all working people. If it takes a working person forward, if it brings working people up the ladder, I'm for working people. And furthermore, I think all the unions, for the most part, are going to be with the Democratic nominee. (Proft: Yeah, yeah.) I don't...I have...so when I took that vote, when you say AFSCME, and when other pundits were folks who take a different view of all this talk about the unions, you know, it's almost like you envision me up there on a stage with the President of the Union and, you know...I'm doing this for these LETTERS behind me on a billboard. I did...I didn't take that vote for the President of the Union, I didn't take that vote for those letters, AFSCME. I took it for those prison guards who are, for the most part, Veterans, and who are, for the most part quite frankly, downstate Republicans, and conservative independents or conservative Democrats, they were just trying to feed their family. You know, they start out making about $46K a year...I mean, and I could go on, there's all sorts of job descriptions, I'll use that one as a perfect example that there are...I spoke to some...I spoke to some workers from the Hope School, that serves the developmentally disabled in my district last night, before I went to Kingda Key (?), that...those people work for an average of $12, $13 an hour. You know, they're NOT making $100K a year, like Bruce Rauner has led a lot of people to believe, they're not going to make $150K a year in retirement. The people who are going to make $150K a year in retirement are the political cronies he's appointed to lead all the departments...actually, the sweet spot is all the DEPUTY directors, that make almost as much as the directors. Proft: Well let me, let me just explore this a little bit, just in terms of kind of the public sector union policy agenda. I mean, are you support...I know in your video you talk about wanting to repeal the Rauner-Madigan Income Tax hike, which I think is a fair way to describe and I think is a good idea, but what about things like the $15 minimum wage and some of the other agenda items for the Progressive Left, the public sector unions? McCann: Yeah, so...the minimum wage in this country, I think, needs to go up, but I think it needs to be set, you know, by Congress. I think, you know, there are 50 states, each state has the ability, and in there, there...and we...we have one of the higher minimum wages...I do believe the minimum wage needs to go up. BUT, it needs to be done across the board, it should be done at the Federal level, and I've told them that, I've (?) the folks when they come to visit with me...when I talk about the folks, I'm talking about their MEMBERS, I hardly ever see an official from the Union, I think I've met the President of the AFSCME Union...I've never really sat down and MET her. I've been on the same stage with her a couple of times, when they come...have me come to address their membership...I deal with those PEOPLE. Proft: Well then so, Sam, so it...so...so... McCann: So I'm not...yeah, I voted NO on that, I said that it...that needs to happen at the Federal level. Proft: If...but if you're not going to have significant Union backing, and you're up against two oligarchs, how do you put the resources together...I mean, this was the Jeanne Ives challenge, right? You're one of 59 Senators, she was one of 118 State Reps. People don't know who you are outside your district, so you've got to put together resources to market, and now you've got to put together resources to market into the resources being expended by two oligarchs, how do you make that work? McCann: Well, that's one reason I'm on the phone with you right now. (Proft chuckles.) We're looking to cause a paradigm shift. If you're within the sound of my voice, give me a call, text, email...three four...217-341-8524. Jacobson: Do you have (McCann: That's my cell phone number.) a website...oh, you're handing out your CELL PHONE number? McCann: Yeah! Proft: Okay, alright, let's hold on here. Jacobson: Roland Burris was on here, giving out his cell phone number. Proft: Yeah, exactly! Jacobson: And so, do you have a website that people can go to? McCann: And so, yeah, that's my cell phone number! Send me a text, and then I can follow that up with a phone call. I can't take everybody's phone call at once, but I can receive texts, and I will get back with you, because we want to cause a paradigm shift in Illinois, because it needs it. Proft: 217-782...what? McCann: 217-341-8524. Proft: *mumbling* eight five, two four...217-341-8524. Alright, text Sam McCann, all day and all night, BOY you're really gonna get more connected than you ever wanted to be, I bet! McCann: I...you know, a government that's by the people and for the people requires something, and that common denominator is the people. Proft: And do you have a website, or how is the campaign being put together, to even just get the signatures required? McCann: McCannForIllinois.com. McCann for...M-C-C-A-N-N F-O-R Illinois spelled out, dot com. Proft: Well, you mention in your announcement video, and you mentioned at the beginning of our conversation about values, and some of the moral issues where you and former Governor Rauner are at odds. And so, are you going to be somebody that leans into talking about social issues, rather than the approach that the Republican Party has taken, that to try and take Sanctuary State and the life issue, and all these other issues off the table and just pretend they don't exist? McCann: Yes, certainly. I think that's what we did in our announcement video, I think I broached those issues...I think I broached those issues there in State. Right, I think I hit that head on, if you watch the entire three minutes, and I think again, think about this; President Trump won not by running from all that, but by embracing it, right? So I don't think that the national party is having the problem that we're having, they're embracing it, they're pushing it, they're leaning in, and saying "Hey, this is who we are, and this is what...and this is why." You have to explain WHY, right? There's a lot of people who...they aren't like us, they don't pay attention to all of this minutia, this political minutia, and so they don't know WHY they feel the way they do on this issue, and when you have a deep conversation with them, they're like "Hey wait. That, that makes some sense." I mean, I get...that's why President Trump won, right? He didn't win because he converted the entire Republican Party. He won because the party was attempting to do what you just described. He had 16 opponents in the Primary, if he would have started out with one or two, he wouldn't have won, right? What he did by entering that race was the number of people who supported him in relationship to that large number of opponents...he was able to win enough Primaries to become the nominee. (Proft: Yeah.) How did he do that? He did that by getting a TON of conservative Democrats, a TON of Union conservative Democrats and independents and Republicans across the country, much like Ronald Reagan did, to become the next President of the United States. So, the answer to your question is YES, we're leaning in, we're embracing it, that's a big part of what we're talking about here. Proft: How do you...I thought to...Rauner's announcement yesterday was interesting...essentially part of it was to criticize your business background and some of the challenges that you've had in your business background. How do you respond to his response? McCann: You know, well, I would say that I have walked in the footsteps of the average Illinoisan, he has not. I think it's interesting that he is one of these guys who like a lot of politicians will get up there and say "Holy...we gotta make Illinois better for business, these poor businesspeople are going out of business, these poor businesspeople, they're having trouble hanging on!" Well yeah, I KNOW, because I'm one of those first generation "poor businesspeople" who started at the age of 23 with ZERO CAPITAL. I had nothing to invest, zero, right? I came from a broken home, no money, no inheritance, didn't inherit a business, didn't put together a bunch of venture capitalists to go and rate businesses. I started a little construction company because I...because there were...there was no JOBS to be had in the community in which I lived, and I...over the course of 25 years, we turned it into something. We had that little thing called a Correction in the economy back in '08 that caused me and a lot of other people in the construction business a lot of problems. So yeah, I would say to Governor Rauner, you know, I think it's interesting that you stand up there half the day and talk about how we should have pity on these poor little businesspeople, well, I agree! So why are you lambasting ME? Because I have had the same problem that thousands of Illinoisans ave experienced, and you see Illinois? For all those people listening, Governor Rauner has NO CLUE what you've been through, he has no clue what you're going through, and he doesn't really CARE! He just wants your vote, so that he can attain more power for himself and a couple of other people at the top of the pyramid. Proft: He is state Senator Sam McCann, an independent...Conservative Party is that he's starting candidate for governor who will file at least 25K signatures at the third week of June if he's gonna be on the ballot and try and challenge Rauner and Pritzker in the general election. McCannForIllinois.com is the website, Sam McCann thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. McCann: Thank you guys, thank you Dan, thank you Amy, thank you very much! Jacobson: Good luck! And he joined us on our Turnkey dot Pro Answer Line!