- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - The NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice case cropped up in Illinois’ gubernatorial race Wednesday when Gov. Pat Quinn indirectly called on his Republican challenger Bruce Rauner - a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers - to condemn domestic violence.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, brought up the topic after a luncheon geared toward women in business. Quinn and Rauner are locked in one of the most competitive governor’s races nationwide.

“There’s a special responsibility that owners of teams have …,” Quinn told reporters. “If you own a team, however small the ownership percentage, you should speak out on this issue. You shouldn’t ignore it, sweep it under the rug. This is a very, very serious offense that was committed, and the league should not slap the wrist of those who perpetrated that offense.”

Rauner - a venture capitalist whose economic disclosures also show part ownership in the Chicago Bulls and Boston Red Sox -was asked about the issue Wednesday.

“I have not spoken with the Steelers organization at all, not in many months,” he told reporters. “I am working here in Illinois to win an election and transform our government so it’s run for the people again. That’s 100 percent my focus.”

Later, a Rauner spokeswoman said the NFL “badly mishandled” the Rice situation and shot back at Quinn with scrutiny of funding for domestic violence issues.

The Baltimore Ravens released Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely this week after video surfaced of him punching his then-fiancee.

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