Thursday, March 20, 2014

EXTRA: Not sure Rauner gains much from his collection of ‘Dem’ supporters

I’m sure that Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner thinks he struck a blow against Gov. Pat Quinn by offering up a collection of people who call themselves Democrats, yet said Thursday they will back his GOP campaign.

MEEKS: Will he really help Rauner?
Yet I’m not swayed.

LOOKING AT THE list of these Democrats, I see mostly a collection of business executives. Not a lot of names that the general public would recognize.

For all I know, this may wind up reinforcing the notion that Rauner is not like most folks – that he’s part of his self-admitted .01 percent of our society. Quinn could play this into something that reinforces his self-described populist, man of the people, image.

Some have given attention to the idea that Newton Minow – the FCC chairman under President John F. Kennedy – is on the list. The man who told us that television had become a “vast wasteland.” That’s a one-day story. Quinn will get more positive attention come May 3 when he gets to present former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton with the "Order of Lincoln" award.

Personally, I was caught up more with the notion that the Rev. James Meeks was on Rauner’s list.

MEEKS IS THE head of the Salem Baptist Church in the Roseland neighborhood. He has one of those self-described mega-churches. A huge congregation in the thousands filled with people who would do whatever he says.

He’s also the guy who served a decade in the Illinois House of Representatives, and often tried to pass himself off as a political player.

MINOW: Rauner's Kennedy connection?
He often threatened to run for mayor or for governor unless those officials did what he wanted, made it clear that gay rights activists weren’t of much concern to him, and once led a public effort to protest education funding by trying symbolically to enroll inner-city kids into wealthy suburban school districts (then claiming their rejection was somehow racist).

That latter move brought him ridicule. And I don’t sense that the political people who were challenged by Meeks ever felt threatened by his presence. In fact, they usually continued to win re-election despite Meeks’ hostile talk. Will Rauner gain much, if anything, at all by having the reverend on his team?

HE’LL GET A few more votes than Republicans usually get in Roseland. Then again, the Democratic Party operatives in that part of the city probably know how to counter such a move.

Besides, there’s the simple fact that Democrats, by their very nature, are an ornery political group. So many different factions that have a hard time playing nice with each other. The fact that Rauner has a list of 23 Dems who aren’t repulsed by him is more cute than particularly effective.

If anything, I’m more impressed by Rauner’s announcement that his first campaign ad spot of this part of the election cycle is a Spanish-language ad. Reaching out to Latino voters in a serious manner could be a bigger blow to Quinn than anything these 23 Dems could do!

Although if it turns out as lame as when lieutenant governor hope Evelyn Sanguinetti mixed in a few Spanish words into her Election Night introduction of Rauner, even that could turn out to be a lost opportunity.


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