Local entrepreneur and Bull Valley resident Gary Rabine kicked off his 2022 campaign for governor during two events Tuesday, telling supporters that he has the experience to take on the challenges facing the state.
In a Tuesday afternoon meet-and-greet, Rabine, a Republican, introduced himself by sharing some of his background and three primary goals: job creation, lowering property taxes and improving public safety.
“Once, our state was at the very top. Today, we’re at the bottom of the heap,” Rabine said. “I’m running for governor for you, for us, because my experience as a job creator and the firsthand knowledge I’ve gained from other businesses and political leaders has prepared me to take on the challenges we face today.”
After talking about how job losses, crime and the country’s highest property taxes have caused people to flee Illinois to live in other states, Rabine introduced his campaign slogan: “paving the way to stay.”
Rabine’s debut campaign event was held at the Schaumburg headquarters of the Rabine Group, the paving, roofing and snow removal company that Rabine grew and led for many years before passing the baton to his son Austin Rabine. A second event took place Tuesday evening at the Bull Valley Golf Club, of which Rabine is a part owner.
First to speak at the event was Dan Duffy, a longtime friend of Rabine’s and former state senator for Illinois’ 26th District, the seat currently held by Dan McConchie. Duffy, a resident of Lake Barrington, is currently partner and chief executive officer of a startup founded by Austin Rabine called SITE Technologies.
“We finally have a candidate with the experience and expertise to turn this state around,” Duffy told the crowd. “He knows how to solve big problems and make difficult decisions and how to succeed because he’s done it through his businesses.”
When Rabine took the mic, he matched each of his three goals with specific, aggressive benchmarks, laying out a strategic plan for his time in office if elected.
First, he promised to reduce the state’s property taxes by 50% or more by 2024. Second, he said he will pull back government regulations on businesses and will seek to create at least 50,000 new jobs each year. And finally, Rabine promised to improve public safety and education by rewarding good educators and police and firing “the bad ones.”
“We will work to ensure that we give our law enforcement leaders the tools and the training they need to passionately protect our communities,” he said. “That doesn’t stop us from firing bad police. But we need to reward the good ones, too.”
Duffy said he thinks Rabine will have no problem getting his policy priorities through the Democrat-controlled state legislature.
“It’s all about building relationships with people for a common cause, working with people from all walks of life,” Duffy said. “Gary has worked with everyone from white-collar workers to blue-collar workers to every type of person in the world.”
Although he has no prior elected experience, Rabine is far from a political newbie.
He serves on the executive committee for the Republican Governors Association and is a founding member of the Job Creators Network, a conservative advocacy group that gives policy recommendations on removing regulations that inhibit economic growth, Rabine said in his remarks Tuesday.
Rabine also was an early supporter of Turning Point USA, a right-wing political advocacy group geared toward young people, he told the Northwest Herald last month. He did fundraising work for the organization in 2013 and 2014 and currently serves as an advisory council member. (The organization is different and not connected to the local nonprofit Turning Point of McHenry County.)
Many trusted supporters filled the room at Tuesday afternoon’s event, but one attendee said he had yet to decide if he would support Rabine in the 2022 race for governor.
Jeffery Coleman of Barbershop Network News, an organization that brings predominantly Republican candidates into barbershops in the inner city of Chicago, said he came because Duffy spoke highly of Rabine.
“Just on property taxes alone, [Rabine’s positions] are very attractive,” Coleman said. “I like what I heard and I just want to get the opportunity to shake his hand, look him in his eye, ask him a few questions and get my own mind wrapped around whether I want to fully support him or not.”
As a relatively lesser known candidate, Rabine said in an interview Tuesday that it will be essential for him to win over potential partners such as Coleman in the months to come.
“Being from Lake County, McHenry County and doing business in the Chicagoland area, I don’t really know all of the challenges that people face in the inner city,” he said. “I definitely have to go to these neighborhoods to really understand it well.”
Tuesday afternoon’s meet-and-greet was attended by dozens of people, most of whom were not wearing face masks.
Rabine said his team had enough face masks to provide one to each person in attendance and then some, but he said he respects people’s individual decisions to do whatever makes them feel most comfortable. Rabine himself wore a mask for a few minutes upon entering the building but took it off to speak to the crowd and did not put it back on for the rest of the event.
“I think that, as time goes on, people are going to relax in how they think about masks,” he said. “I think as long as we protect those that are sick and elderly and those that are compromised, that’s the most important thing.”