Former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan is set to officially enter the race for governor.
Campaign spokesman Dan Curry says Ryan will file petitions on Nov. 2 to get on the Republican primary ballot, the last day of filing for candidates in state and federal primaries. Candidates can file as early as today.
Ryan, who lost to Rod Blagojevich in 2002 in his last run for statewide office, has been floating his name for weeks, but turning in petitions will solidify his position in a crowded GOP primary field.
The decision to file petitions Nov. 2 is an apparent attempt to be the last name voters see on the long Republican primary ballot for governor. Candidates in line to file this morning will be subject to a lottery for the prized top spot on the ballot. Candidates for governor have been campaigning since early this summer. Yet Ryan held back, only first taking polls and assembling a campaign team in the last month.
Republicans see a prime opportunity to regain power in Illinois next year with the arrest and ouster of Blagojevich and the constant calls for tax hikes by Democrats facing massive budget shortfalls.
Also expected to file petitions on the Republican side: state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom of Naperville, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, conservative commentator Dan Proft of Wheaton, businessman Adam Andrzejewski of Hinsdale and former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna of Chicago.
Unlike Ryan, the candidates have all publicly declared their intentions to run. McKenna has scheduled his official announcement for Tuesday with a statewide tour.
The winner will go on to face a Democrat in the general election. Quinn, who as lieutenant governor replaced Blagojevich at the state's helm, is running to keep the seat. Democratic primary opponents include Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes of Chicago. Ryan has largely been out of the public spotlight since he lost to Blagojevich with 45 percent of the vote, but he might carry the most name recognition on the Republican ticket, having served two 4-year terms as attorney general and three 4-year terms before that as DuPage County state's attorney.
The 63-year-old is now a fellow at Benedictine University.