Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rauner trying to make us think he’s a legit candidate before we see reality

I find a little amusement in an event I covered last autumn for one of the daily newspapers in the suburbs – one involving venture capital firm manager Bruce Rauner who was touting his connections to a group promoting Chicago-area tourism.

RAUNER: Wants to be guv; do we want him?
At the time, I didn’t realize that he saw himself as Illinois gubernatorial material. Although I learned that fact about three days after his event in suburban Oak Lawn.

IF I HAD known he was to be a factor in the upcoming campaign cycle, I’m sure I would have asked different questions. And as things have turned out, I haven’t encountered Rauner since.

Although I suspect it’s just a matter of time, since he seems to be one of these business-types who thinks he can become the CEO of Illinois Government. Which is a mistaken attitude for anyone to take.

I’m being barraged by his e-mails, all of which are meant to make it seem that it is inevitable that Rauner will be the Republican nominee for governor in the 2014 state government elections.

Just on Tuesday, he sent out a missive to make us realize he managed to raise about $470,000 during the past month-and-a-half – and has a total campaign fund of about $1.75 million.

NOT EXACTLY ENOUGH for a serious, fully-funded, campaign for statewide office. But it is a significant start. I’ll concede that point.

But it seems like he’s trying to get himself set to overwhelm the opposition – making anyone who tries running against him in the primary cycle to be on a fool’s errand.

“For any Republican to stand a chance against the Quinns, the Madigans and the powerful labor union bosses who control Springfield, they will need to be very well-funded,” Rauner said in a prepared statement.

True enough. Although the reason those organized labor groups go out of their way to fully fund their campaign efforts is that they want to counter the big bucks that business interests are more than capable of putting into the campaign of any candidate who they think will do their bidding.

SO POOR, LITTLE Bruce Rauner wants us to think he’s looking out for the little guy? It’s probably that little guy who has the most to lose if someone like Rauner actually manages to gain the gubernatorial nomination.

Personally, I’m not sure what to think of Rauner’s chances. I suspect that the people who actually pay attention to state government are inclined to think that next year’s nominee should be Dan Rutherford. He was a long-time state legislator from near Pontiac who is currently serving a term as Illinois state treasurer.

There is a sense among people whose particular interest is state government (and not just electoral politics) that Rutherford has some experience and has waited his turn. It’s the same logic that got Jim Ryan the gubernatorial nomination in 2002 – and look how he turned out.

There will be other candidates in the GOP primary whose role will be to appease the ideologues who want someone willing to spew conservative viewpoints on ALL issues and will be more than willing to govern in ways that dump on people who aren’t exactly like themselves!

SO UNLESS RAUNER gets a lot of money to buy himself tons of name recognition, who else is going to vote for him – except for a few CEOs who want a governor whom they can control.

Of course, things can also go wrong with the idea of buying name recognition. Because the least little thing can trip it up.

Let’s not forget the 2004 campaign for our state’s U.S. Senate seat – when Blair Hull thought he was going to be able to use a similar strategy to get the Democratic Party nomination, and Jack Ryan thought he’d be the Republican.

I’m not saying that Rauner is going to encounter the same kind of scandalous details that took both of those men down and gave us the concept of “U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.” for four years.

BUT TRYING TO run for government office without any kind of government record makes one extremely susceptible to the whims of the electorate – which can turn on you quicker than you could ever imagine.

So much so that Rauner – who boasts about having more than 11,000 people “liking” his campaign page on Facebook – could find out how quickly (and easily) those people can “un-like” him without giving it a second thought.


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