Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Won’t Endorse Donald Trump, Skipping GOP National Convention

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has become the latest entrant in the expanding list of Republican heavyweights who have denied to endorse the GOP’s controversial presumptive nominee for president Donald Trump. According to Chicago Tribune, Gov. Rauner’s aides also confirmed on Thursday that he’ll skip the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July.

Gov. Rauner won't endorse Trump [Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images]The first-term Republican governor joins U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who faces a high-stakes re-election contest in November against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, and U.S. Rep. Bob Dold in bypassing the Cleveland convention in an effort to distance themselves from the ‘political minefield’ created by Trump.

The shocker follows Wednesday’s media reports that the two living Republican Presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, have said they won’t participate in the election process nor will they endorse presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Rauner won't endorse Donald Trump [Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Image]Bush 43’s personal aide, Freddy Ford, said that the President “does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign.” The Texas Tribune reported that Jim McGrath, the Bush senior’s spokesman, said in an email Wednesday that President Bush has retired from politics.

“At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics. He came out of retirement to do a few things for Jeb, but those were the exceptions that proved the rule.”

Both father and son have endorsed previous Republican nominees, supporting Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

Another high-profile GOP official to reject the Manhattan billionaire since he became the last candidate standing in the party’s nominating contest is House Speaker Paul Ryan, who on Thursday told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he’s just not ready to back Trump.

“I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now… The bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.”

Ryan, however, hopes to eventually back the real estate mogul and “to be a part of this unifying process.” The first moves, though, must come from the presumptive nominee, he said.

The decision of Gov. Bruce Rauner not to back Donald Trump appears to be a change of heart from his March 21 promise to help the eventual nominee.

“I will support the Republican nominee for President… I will do everything I can to work with that nominee.”

In March, Gov. Rauner, told students in Wilmette that he was “horrified” by the rhetoric in the Republican presidential campaign.

“It’s ugly and it’s nasty and it’s weird.”

By staying away from the July convention, Gov. Rauner, who is embroiled in the state’s fiscal crisis, also hopes to avoid a hard time explaining why he’s in Cleveland as state finances are heading to the summer in a meltdown. Ron Gidwitz, a Chicago business executive and a 2006 GOP candidate for governor warned elected Republican officials from attending the RNC until they complete “unfinished business here.”

“As far as I am concerned, no elected Republican officials should be going to the convention until they take care of the unfinished business here.”

Donald Trump picked up 54 delegates by winning Illinois primary in March 15, including the 15 at-large delegates made up of party officials who are pledged to vote for the winner.

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The Illinois Republican Party will send 69 delegates to the RNC. Three convention members and 12 at-large delegates that are sent are obligated to vote for Trump as he won the state’s primary. Three delegates each are elected from the state’s 18 congressional districts, and must list a preferred candidate on the ballot. They are then bound to vote for the candidate they selected, unless that person drops out of the race.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s denial to endorse Donald Trump underlines the way many elite Republicans are still wrestling with the reality that real-estate tycoon is the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. The last Republican candidate to be nominated under this much controversy was Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964, who was defeated by Lyndon B. Johnson in a landslide winning 44 out of 50 states.

[Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images]