Thursday, April 10, 2014

For all his money, Rauner is a political amateur on the campaign trail

I’m guessing that Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner wishes he could have a do-over of his campaign appearance earlier this week in Springfield.

RAUNER: Definitely NOT a political pro
Because he wound up getting a double-hit. Both the Chicago Sun-Times and State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield covered the event with the Sangamon County Republican Foundation – and they came up with separate issues on which to make Rauner look bad.

WITH THE WAY the Internet can spread those local stories into regional matters, Rauner now has a pair of gaffes to have to deal with – and which will likely be written into the litany of events used when people now try to write a quickie bio of just who Bruce is.

Rauner even gets bashed for things beyond his control; although the way he handled it shows he’s a political amateur.

He’s going to learn that just because he’s spending his own money to fund a campaign against Gov. Pat Quinn, that doesn’t mean he controls what issues other people choose to think of as important.

Specifically, it seems that among the people who were present at the Springfield-based event was Bill Cellini. Remember him?

HE’S OUT OF prison, having served his sentence for his criminal offense (which involved trying to strong-arm a Hollywood producer into making campaign contributions). He’s a free man, and he chose to show up at a Republican event.

He didn’t meet with Rauner, who claims he didn’t even realize Cellini was present and that he barely knows the man. Which may all be true!

CELLINI: He's back, and likes Bruce
But the Sun-Times talked to Cellini, who said he found Rauner to be “impressive” and someone he’d vote for because Bill still considers himself to be of the GOP. There was a time when a Cellini backing (particularly if accompanied by the kind of campaign cash he had the skills to raise) would have caused a candidate to jump for joy.

But now with a felony conviction on his record and an image as the ultimate political insider whom Rauner claims he’s fighting against, Rauner wanted to avoid the appearance of getting an endorsement of any kind.

BUT HE ALSO knows there are those political people whose support he will need who would resent it if he were to blast Cellini too hard. That’s what caused him to give a rather lame “no comment,” along with the explanation that he doesn’t really know the man.

MADIGAN: Does Rauner need him out?
Which gave Quinn the ammunition he needed to have his campaign people trash Rauner of guilt by association. “Mr. Rauner claims to want to root out corruption and ‘shake up Springfield,’ yet when faced with an endorsement from the ‘King of Shakedowns,’ mum’s the word,” an aide told the Sun-Times.

The Capitol Fax newsletter of Springfield reported on Wednesday that Rauner later came out with a statement saying he, “obviously renounces Cellini.” But it’s a little late now. The Cellini/Rauner image will stick.

It makes me wonder how a “Gov. Rauner” would cope with things the first time he has to go head-to-head against a “Speaker Madigan.” Or does Rauner think his money can buy him legislative leaders who will be compliant with his demands – a large part of the reason why I’m skeptical of the term limits talk he is spewing on the campaign trail.

AS IF ALL of that wasn’t enough, take the Springfield press – which didn’t think of Cellini’s presence as a big deal. But they did try calling him out on his anti-labor rhetoric. Rauner said he thinks he is, “very pro-worker.”

This coming from the candidate who talks of freezing pension benefits “forever.” This is the guy who has the labor unions worked up into an ire. By what definition he thinks he’s “pro-worker” makes me wonder how delusional he truly is!

QUINN: Does he get a Rauner double?
What he really was doing, however, was trying to avoid a tricky question. For being the anti-labor guy was the strategy for winning a Republican primary in which none of the opponents had the kind of funds necessary to rebut the claim.

Like the “Mighty Oz” telling us not to look behind the curtain, Rauner was letting us know he doesn’t want to talk about that anymore.

BECAUSE NOW, IF he brings up the labor rhetoric, Quinn does have the kind of funds to make sure it spreads. Quinn can use it to rile up the organized labor interests to the point where they do turn out strongly to vote in support of his campaign.

These days, Rauner wants to be the guy with the loving, Democratic-voting wife who talks vaguely about “shaking things up.”

Not the Bill Cellini buddy who has the labor unions gearing up to stick a shiv in his back come the Nov. 4 general election.


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