Rauner’s Re-Election Bid Kicks Off with Rocky Ride

Chicago, IL – Instead of cruising through a smooth re-election announcement, Bruce Rauner ran into dead ends with a bombardment of negative press.
 
Faced with angry moderates and conservatives, a 63% disapproval rating, and a list of accomplishments smaller than his list of supporters, it’s going to be a bumpy ride for this failed governor. Here’s what Illinoisans are seeing and reading in the news about Rauner’s rocky rollout:
 
From WMAQ:

From WFLD:

From WLS:

From WCIA:

From KFVS:

From WGN:

From WEHT:

From WBBM:

From AP:
 
The first-term governor is considered among the most vulnerable incumbents nationwide. He's clashed with majority Democrats since he took office, including an unprecedented budget impasse that recently ended.
 
From Politico:
 
The announcement comes as the embattled governor has endured ongoing staff turmoil and as he faces a revolt from conservatives in his own party. […]
 
Rauner was elected in 2014 under the promise of turning around Illinois’ economic fiscal climate. However, the amount of unpaid state bill debt tripled. Over the summer, 15 Republicans broke ranks and voted against Rauner to approve a budget that included an income tax increase to end a two-year budget impasse.
 
Rauner vetoed the measure but the legislature overrode him.
 
From Chicago Sun-Times:
 
Is Harley-ridin’ Gov. Bruce Rauner “smoke and lightnin’?”
 
Or smoke and mirrors? […]
 
[Republican consultant Collin] Corbett said the motorcycle image is another continuation of the Rauner campaign portraying the multi-millionaire businessman as a “normal guy.”
 
“I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’re going to see him on a motorcycle, or we’ll see him in that famous Carhartt jacket. And you might see him out hunting a few more times than usual between now and March 20th,” Corbett said. “What we’re learning nowadays and some had to learn the hard way is that voters can see through fake and so, when it comes to something where you’re trying to show Rauner as somebody on a motorcycle, or somebody who hunts, then it’s got to be real because voters see through that.”
 
He called showing Rauner’s real habits a “tried and true” primary strategy.
 
At least one of Rauner’s Democratic scoffed at Rauner’s motorcycle message.
 
“Bruce Rauner’s motorcycle must have taken a wrong turn if took him three years to ‘choose’ to fight for this state,” J.B. Pritzker’s campaign manager Anne Caprara said in a statement. “It’s time for Rauner to go, and at least we know he already has his transportation.”
 
From Chicago Tribune:
 
The lonely ride may serve as a metaphor for the former private equity investor as he tries for a follow-up to a first term that became a tempestuous test of his ability to institute his business-driven agenda, symbolized by a historic, two-year state budget impasse.
 
Gone are the people who helped Rauner become a Republican governor in a Democratic state a few years ago. They were purged in a summer shake up, only to see their replacements mostly purged weeks later.
 
Gone, too, are many socially conservative rank-and-file Republican lawmakers, who had benefited from Rauner bringing to bear his personal wealth in rebuilding a long-in-the-wilderness GOP. Angered most recently by Rauner's signature on a bill expanding taxpayer-subsidized abortions, they are looking to field a challenger to him while discounting the importance of his campaign checkbook.
 
Gone as well is the ability of Rauner to portray himself as a fresh outsider, a newcomer to the political scene who pledged to work with all parties, use his business skills amid a boast that he had been "successful at everything I've done."
 
And gone is Rauner's successful 2014 campaign tag line in which he promised to "Shake up Springfield, Bring back Illinois." The new catchphrase: "Home is worth fighting for." […]
 
"Looking at this, you don't think that is an incumbent governor. This is not what incumbent governors run on, generally speaking. They run on their accomplishments: 'Things are doing great. Yes, we've got problems but by God we've come a long way,'" Mooney said.
 
"What else is he going to say? What else can he say at this point?" Mooney asked. "They've got certain accomplishments, every administration has one. But this administration has basically been defined by the budget stalemate. It will be defined by that going forward."
 
From Crain’s:
 
About the only concession that his first term was not exactly a zippy ride in the country as Captain Illinois was the statement that, by golly, "We've won some and we've lost some."
 
Ya think? Here are a few questions that the governor didn't answer.
 
• After spending most of three years publicly and privately ripping Illinois as a horrible place to do business, Rauner lately has been all sunshine and puppies, strongly pushing for Amazon's second headquarters and a new Toyota/Mazda factory. […]
 
• How will the next term be different from the first one, in which the state's credit rating went down the toilet and its job creation machinery ground to a near halt? In other words, if voters give you a second chance, sir, what are you going to give them beyond another four years of scorched-earth political warfare? […]
 
• When it comes to health care, can you convince us that you're sticking up for the state and its people against a self-adoring Donald Trump and a lapdog Congress? Rauner tried to have it both ways on health care, publicly saying little while his insurance commissioner worked behind the scenes to save coverage for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans. He won't have another chance with GOP tax-revision plans that promise to clobber hundreds of thousands of Illinois families if the deduction for state and local taxes gets axed.
 
There's more. But you get the idea. As Mr. Rauner said today, "Nothin' worthwhile is every easy." You certainly can say that about his bid for a second term.
 
From Chicagoist:
 
The ad is a departure from his earlier work this year (which were totally not actual campaign ads, but rather campaign-style ads) that featured him in a pristine tool shed playing with duct tape, a callback to his quirkier ads at the beginning of his run in 2014. Rauner, who’s been embattled with legislators for his entire term because they simply won’t make enough cuts to social services, is showing us that when a billionaire hedge fund manager swaps out his suit and tie or fresh Carhartt for a biker vest—he’s serious about fightin’ for reform.
 
Rauner’s critics took the ad as an opportunity to point to just how much of a fight the governor could be up against in the coming year.
 
From WBEZ:
 
Reaction: “Smh”
 
Opponents seized on how Rauner’s video makes no mention of two years without a budget or $16.3 billion in unpaid bills on his watch.
 
The Democratic Governors Association called Rauner the “most vulnerable incumbent” in America, and J.B. Pritzker’s Democratic gubernatorial campaign went even further. It called Rauner a “motorcycle-riding failed governor” and “sham savior nobody asked for.”
 
But critics also emerged from within Rauner’s own party. The former Republican Congressman and Tea Party firebrand, Joe Walsh, tweeted out that Rauner shouldn’t be running again. “Smh,” Walsh tweeted, using a common abbreviation for “Shaking my head.” “That Harley Davidson act won’t work this time.” [...]
 
Ives told WBEZ Monday she intends to announce an exploratory committee for governor this week and has gotten commitments of support from past Rauner donors.
 
She also ridiculed Rauner’s campaign video: “To me, it didn’t matter what he said in that video. You can’t trust his word. Venture capitalist Rauner would have fired Rauner by now for failure to perform and for lying.”
 
From ABC 7 Chicago:

Rauner spoke with ABC7 Monday after his re-election announcement. He downplayed the struggles he has had with staff turnover in his administration and getting key items in his turnaround agenda passed, pointing to the education funding bill and ethics reform as victories for the state.

He brushed off talk of a primary challenge from conservative State Representative Jeanne Ives. He also dismissed concerns that by signing the controversial bill that allows for taxpayer funded abortions for poor women that he has alienated his conservative base.


From WCIA:

While Rauner may have some competition after signing a bill using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions, he says a coalition of conservative anti-abortion groups did meet over the weekend to seek an alternative candidate which, in talks, is Jeanne Ives, of Wheaton.
 
Rauner's announcement does come after some doubts, especially after signing the controversial abortion bill and major changes to his staff which includes three chiefs of staff in three months.
 
From WGN:
 
Rauner's time in office has been plagued with two failed attempts by lawmakers, to create balanced and on-time budgets.
 
More recently, the governor lost some of his republican base, after signing a series of controversial bills, including one that expands taxpayer subsidies for abortions done through Medicaid.
 
Republican State Rep Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, is now exploring the possibility of challenging Rauner on the republican ticket -- while power democrats like entrepreneur, philanthropist, and billionaire, J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, and State Senator Daniel Biss have all thrown their hats in the race.
 
From CBS 2 Chicago:
 
However, if Rauner survives a possible challenge from within his own party, he would face one of seven Democrats running for governor. […]
 
The governor might face a challenge within his own party.
 
Several Republicans have been weighing bids for governor, angered by Rauner’s decision to sign legislation allowing for state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions despite an earlier pledge to veto the bill. Outspoken conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) has voiced interest in running against Rauner.
 
From WICS:
 
This comes during a time when the Republican party is facing upheaval.
 
Governor Rauner faced extreme criticism and outright opposition from many prominent Republicans after he signed a bill last month that uses taxpayer money to fund abortions.
 
Several conservatives are considering challenging Rauner in a Republican primary, but so far none have officially announced a run.
 
From WTTW Chicago Tonight:
 
The first-term governor’s signature of a law that allows Medicaid recipients and state employees to get abortions using government-backed insurance (and therefore taxpayer dollars) has so infuriated members of his party that conservative firebrand state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, is exploring a primary run against him.
 
Whether rank-and-file Republican lawmakers will vent their anger at Rauner by deserting him on his legislative priorities will begin to become apparent Tuesday, when lawmakers return to Springfield.

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Michael Berger