Capitol – Your Illinois News Radar » The circular firing squad heats up ahead of state party vote

* Recruit a candidate to run against a popular sitting congressman and stuff like this can happen…

* From one of Dan Proft’s papers

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is publicly preaching party unity on the campaign trail.

But behind the scenes, Rauner is quietly leading an effort to purge conservatives from the Illinois Republican State Central Committee, which governs the party.

At issue: the re-election of current Illinois GOP Chairman Timothy O. Schneider of Bartlett, a close ally of Rauner and a sharp critic of State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) in the recent gubernatorial primary.

“He’s in trouble,” a source close to the situation told Prairie State Wire.

Lake County GOP Chairman Mark Shaw is mounting a strong challenge to Schneider, sources say.

Republican precinct committeemen gather at their county conventions this Wed. to nominate and elect eighteen State Central Committee members, or one from each Illinois congressional district.

State Central Committee members will meet in May to select the state party chairman.

* Meanwhile, Gov. Rauner called Rep. Ives a “fringe” candidate last December and then continued to dismiss her for months on end. The Republican Governors Association’s communications director predicted the day before the March 20th primary that Rauner would “win easily.” In the days leading up to the primary, Rauner himself compared his race to the one Gov. Jim Edgar faced before winning a second term – but Edgar won that GOP primary by 50 points.

So, he deserves most of what he’s getting these days

Rauner won election over hapless Pat Quinn by less than 5 percentage points. He’ll need every vote he can touch to have a chance against Pritzker.

“There have been some tough conversations in private between the governor and legislators and activists,” said a Rauner campaign official. “And maybe they don’t agree with the governor on this issue or that issue, but at the end of the day people will recognize the stakes of this election are very high. We’re trying to build bridges.”

Bridges are nice. But right now, Illinois Republicans need to deal with that wall, particularly its base.

The problem for Rauner is the primary is over and he needs to be pivoting toward the center. Appeasing “fringe” (his word) elements of his “base” is counter-productive. And trying to use the “Because… Madigan!” argument doesn’t work so well at the moment because he used it so blatantly (and falsely) against Ives.

Any ideas?