PEORIA, Ill. -- There's still nearly a year and a half until the next Governor of Illinois is elected, but the wheels are turning, as candidates officially start hitting the campaign trail.
Thursday was the first stop in Bruce Rauner's "Bring Back Illinois" tour, beginning in Peoria.
The businessman says if he wins, he would tackle the state's nearly $100 billion pension debt by changing the existing structure for new hires.
"I just want to drive results for tax payers," said Rauner. I want to improve our economic climate, so businesses are growing, investing again. I want world class schools, even if some of the teachers' union bosses don't want to make changes."
Rauner also says fixing the state's major problems is his biggest interest, not a long-term political career and would cap his term to 8 years.
"We have to take action now in the next few years and transform the government. I know exactly how to do that. I've got a specific plan to do that, and if we wait too long, the problem will be too massive."
During Thursday's stop in Peoria, Caterpillar CEO and Chairman Doug Oberhelman publicly endorsed Bruce Rauner.
Oberhelman says he personally backs the first-time candidate, calling him a breath of "fresh air."
"I almost hate to use this word, but absolutely incorruptible," said Oberhelman. "He has succeeded in everything he's done under private sector with very high standards. He'll do the same in the state."
Rauner joins the race against republican candidate State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Republican State Senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard are also weighing a bid.
Governor Pat Quinn has said he will seek re-election.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan and former White House Chief of Staff William Daley, part of the famous Chicago poltico-family, are also among the democrats contemplating a run for Governor.