Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rauner had better learn to act ‘blue’ if he wants to succeed politically

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner’s election rhetoric has some Illinoisans (particularly those from outside metro Chicago) desiring a guy who’s going to be antagonistic and challenging and willing to provoke the urban opposition.

Particularly toward that guy in the Illinois House of Representatives named Madigan, who despite his unpopularity in some parts of the state was re-elected to his legislative seat with 16,393 votes running unopposed in his Clearing neighborhood (the Midway Airport area) district.

BUT HERE’S HOPING that Rauner was sincere when he said late Tuesday how he contacted House Speaker Michael Madigan and state Senate President John Cullerton and expressed a willingness to work WITH the legislative leaders to try to resolve the state’s problems.

Even though both the Capitol Fax newsletter and the Chicago Sun-Times questioned Wednesday whether Rauner made any call to Madigan. Let's hope he really did make the call.

Because if Rauner really is delusional enough to think he can single-handedly take down the structure of Illinois government, he’s going to find himself as isolated and unpopular and incapable of getting anything done as it can be.

I’d hate to think that Rauner spent nearly $30 million of his own money to win an election that would turn him into the pompous ass of Illinois politics. Nobody wins in that scenario.

THE REALITY IS that Rauner’s re-election is a political aberration. The factors that apply as to why it happened aren’t really part of any conservative Republican movement that some want to believe is sweeping across the nation.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., won re-election to a fourth term in the U.S. Senate with ease; whomping all over Republican James Oberweis – who seemed envious of the fact he won’t be part of a new GOP majority on Capitol Hill.

There’s also the fact that Republicans were completely unsuccessful in their goal to win more seats in the Illinois House. Political pundits prior to the vote counting were convinced the GOP would gain two or three legislative seats – thereby taking away from Democrats their biggest political weapon. But as of Wednesday, it does not appear to have happened.

It seems we still have a veto-proof majority in both legislative chambers. If Rauner thinks he can arbitrarily reject anything the General Assembly passes, they have the power to overturn him!

YES, IT’S A loss for Democrats to lose a gubernatorial post anywhere in the nation. But this state basically is “blue” regardless of that one loss. It’s going to be Rauner’s role to adapt.

Let’s hope for his sake that he really doesn’t have an ideological social agenda (and my understanding is that on environmental issues, he does have an attitude that offends the conservatives amongst us). Otherwise, he’ll wind up being a one-termer – losing, perhaps, to Lisa Madigan come 2018?

I write this knowing full well that Judy Baar Topinka managed to get re-elected as Illinois comptroller (is Democratic challenger Sheila Simon now relieved she gave up the lieutenant governor post and didn’t go down to defeat with Pat Quinn?), and that Tom Cross may wind up as state treasurer.

That race (tied up at 48 percent apiece with about 1 percent of the votes remaining to be counted) could wind up giving Democrats a “take” from Republicans that would help to assuage the loss of the Executive Mansion – which no Dem has lived in for quite a while, and which even Rauner says he won’t use.

THEN, THERE ARE all those referendum questions that the GOP claimed were designed to encourage Democrat-leaning voters to show up at polling places.

They all passed by overwhelming margins – a minimum-wage increase, contraception coverage and a so-called millionaire's tax increase – meaning there is evidence that the people of Illinois won’t revolt if the conservative Republicans don’t get their way on these issues.

Particularly the tax increase that Rauner would want to believe was a major reason why people rejected “four more years” of Quinn as governor. Sixty-three percent of voters said “yes” to the idea.

Could it turn out that in the end, the ultimate losers will be the conservative ideologues who had fantasies of political conquest when they cast their ballots for Rauner?


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