CHICAGO (KMOX) — Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is becoming more combative as next year’s primary draws closer.

Rauner says primaries, complete with “fringe elements” are part of the process. He wouldn’t address State Rep. Jeanne Ives by name.

“These things happen,” Rauner said, interrupted several times by reporters asking him whether he was saying Ives is a fringe candidate. “What we’re going to do is focus on what needs to change, taking [House Speaker Michael] Madigan out and changing the system.”

Ives addressed supporters in her hometown of Wheaton Monday morning, saying she was misled in 2014 when she supported Rauner for governor.

“I was wrong,” Ives said. “The tough talking dude on a Harley with no official agenda turned out to be an empty Carhartt jacket.”

Ives represents a more conservative faction of the Republican party, one that’s angry Rauner wasn’t able to push back against Madigan in the budget battle and signed a bill allowing Medicaid to cover abortions among other moves.

Madigan, by the way, is where Rauner is still leveling most of his criticism ahead of the March 20 primary.

“He has rigged the Democratic primary, he has rigged it ladies and gentlemen. If you guys won’t report it, shame on you,” Rauner said, referring to the gathered media. “He has rigged the system, he controls it. It is a mafia protection racket. Until he’s gone, we aren’t going to fix Illinois and we’re not going to have a good future.”

Rauner and other Republicans have frequently cited Madigan’s longstanding tenure and his power over most legislative action in the Capitol as a road block to reform. Rauner didn’t waver from that. In fact, he told reporters he hasn’t been in charge at all since he’s been elected.

“I wish I had [been], we’d have our problems fixed,” Rauner said. “Illinois would be on [the path to] a great future — we’d have 200,000 more jobs in this state, we would have lower property taxes in this state, we would have term limits in this state if I were in charge. I am not in charge. I’m trying to get to be in charge.”

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