- Associated Press - Friday, July 14, 2017

CHICAGO (AP) - A Republican strategist who was expected to lead Gov Bruce Rauner’s 2018 re-election campaign has left his position days after Rauner replaced top employees with staff from a conservative think tank.

Mike Zolnierowicz (zohl-nehr-oh-whitz) was an architect of Rauner’s 2014 campaign. He also served as Rauner’s chief of staff before resigning in 2016 to work as chief strategic adviser for Illinois GOP political operations.

XPS Professional Services announced Friday that Zolnierowicz is leaving that role to lead XPS’ political operation.

The move comes after Rauner overhauled his staff in the wake of a legislative defeat, hiring leaders of the Illinois Policy Institute to high-level positions, including chief of staff.

A Rauner campaign spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Eleni Demertzis (dee-mehrt-ziss), a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, also resigned Friday.

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