DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom dropped out of the crowded Republican race for governor Friday morning. Schillerstrom threw his support behind former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan.

Former Attorney General Jim Ryan said that with DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom's backing he hopes to close ranks in the crowded Republican race for governor as the Feb. 2 primary election nears.


Schillerstrom announced Friday morning he is dropping out because of trouble raising money. At a press conference in Chicago, he said Ryan was the best out of the other six gubernatorial candidates to lead the Republican ticket.


"I know he will bring the leadership we desperately need," Schillerstrom said.


The announcement comes two days after candidates had to report their fundraising totals for the past six months. Schillerstrom raised more than $660,000 since the summer, and he spent all but about $120,000 by Jan. 1. His war chest trailed all the other candidates except political commentator Dan Proft.


Ryan, who entered the race late, had $190,000 on hand on Jan. 1 and has raised at least another $230,000 this month.


"At the end of the day, we couldn't get our message out," Schillerstrom said.


The candidates have not seen eye to eye on all the issues in the campaign.


Schillerstrom is a social moderate, and until the press conference he was scheduled to meet Friday morning with an abortion rights group; Ryan has said he would support any measure that would reduce the number of abortions in the state. To raise state funds, Ryan has proposed the sale or long-term lease of the Illinois Tollway; Schillerstrom this week called that measure "another smoke and mirrors way to get through a term."


But at Friday's press conference, Schillerstrom downplayed their differences.


"You're not going to agree with everyone 100 percent of the time on all the issues," he said. "But if you look at a majority of the issues, we agree."


Specifically, both are opposed to tax increases to reduce the state's $11 billion budget deficit, and they have taken a similar stance on job creation.


Schillerstrom's decision to drop out puts his political future into some doubt. He is not defending the county board chairman seat that he first won in 1998.


Schillerstrom said he will campaign for Ryan through next month's primary and, if he wins, through November. "After that I look forward to practicing law."


He shot down a suggestion that the endorsement came after a tit-for-tat agreement.


"There is no backroom deal," Schillerstrom said. "DuPage (County) leads in transparency, and what you are seeing and hearing today is what happened. … I am not looking for anything in return."


Schillerstrom and Ryan are two of four Republican candidates hailing from DuPage County, and they have known each other for decades. Ryan, an Elmhurst resident, was state's attorney when Schillerstrom, a Naperville resident, was a member of the county board.


The backing will help Ryan in a race filled with DuPage Republicans. Businessman Adam Andrzejewski and state Sen. Kirk Dillard are both from Hinsdale.


"(DuPage County has) always been Jim Ryan country, and I think it will be again with Bob's help," Ryan said.


Brian Hudson can be reached at bhudson@mysuburbanlife.com.