* Give Bruce Rauner chutzpah points for this comment in last night’s debate…
“Why are you running in the Republican primary? I think you should be running in the Democratic primary,” Rauner needled [Dillard], noting that Dillard has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in public-sector union money. Rauner has long maintained that if a governor takes public union money it is not only a conflict of interest but amounts to a “bribe.”
* Dillard’s response…
“Mr. Rauner doesn’t quite get it and this is one of many things that make him unelectable, that a third of these people that he likes to demonize are Republican Primary voters,”
* More from Dillard’s response…
“Well first of all I’m a lifelong Republican,” Dillard said. He also mentioned that he was the former chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party. He said he’s not going to agree with all policies but did defend his vote for school reform.
Bruce Rauner, the man who’s given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats, called somebody else a RINO?
* And here’s a bit more from that exchange…
Rauner attacked Dillard’s links to the public employee unions.
“Those are the exact same groups that have supported Pat Quinn, supported the Democratic Governors Association. and helped get us into the financial mess we’re in. Yet, you’re with them aligned. The teachers union has said you’re aligned with them on the policies. They are in favor of a tax hike,” said Rauner.
“I’m not gonna’ agree with the teachers on everything. I’m not for a progressive income tax. I didn’t vote for the 67% income tax,” responded Dillard.
* A little background…
“The union interest here is to continue the gravy train of high taxpayer burdens to fund public employee compensations,” [John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute] said.
“This is all part-and-parcel of the public sector unions’ strategy,” Tillman said. “They want to have tremendous influence over whoever wins the governor’s race in the fall.”
David Yepsen, a long time journalist who is now director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said what the unions really want is to not be Wisconsin.
“I think the labor movement in Illinois is genuinely afraid Bruce Rauner will try to do what Scott Walker tried in Wisconsin and they are worried,” Yepsen told Illinois Watchdog.
* More on the Scott Walker fears…
Despite the concerns espoused in the unions’ anti-Rauner literature, though, one point has also become clear: Despite his lavish personal finances and vitriolic anti-organizing rhetoric, Rauner has not outlined any specific plan to hurt organized labor on his campaign website, in his limited press interviews or during debates.
Rauner has not, for example, proposed curbing collective bargaining rights like Walker did, or initiating a right-to-work law, like Daniels and Snyder. Though he has backed creation of “right-to-work” zones, where local governments could opt to adopt right-to-work laws, the candidate has stopped short of endorsing a statewide law outright. (Messages left with Rauner’s campaign for this story were not returned.)
And when it comes to pension cuts, the number one issue facing Illinois public employees of late, Rauner’s opinion likely won’t determine the outcome either way. Many of the same public employee unions financing Illinois Freedom PAC sued Quinn for signing into law last December a landmark bill that cuts Illinois’ public worker pensions. For his part, Rauner has said that law does not go far enough in cutting pensions and shoring up the state’s finances. It’s unclear, however, what he could do on pensions now that the Illinois Supreme Court will likely decide the matter.
Nonetheless, Bowen of IFT argues Rauner has staked out a clear “anti-middle class and anti-union position.” That will translate into anti-union policy, she says, no matter that Rauner currently seems to lack a cohesive strategy for doing so.
And statehouse observers feel that while Rauner may not have the impact of, for example, Scott Walker, who enjoys a Republican-majority legislature, he can still hurt unions.
“At first he can stop things from happening that public employee unions want to see happen,” says Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois-Springfield. “And then he can get involved in legislative races and work with the state legislature.” In future elections, Redfield explains, Rauner could create political momentum and raise finances to elect anti-union legislators—who would, in turn, introduce bills that would be harmful to the labor movement.
…Adding… The IFT has a clever little gif page over on Buzzfeed about Rauner.
* Meanwhile, Dillard also got in some punches last night, too…
“If Mr. Rauner is our nominee . . . we are nominating someone who buys influence in all parts of his life. Putting Bruce in charge of Springfield is sort of like putting a rat in charge of the cheese,” Dillard said.
* But Bill Brady piled on Dillard…
“To walk away from $175 to $180 billion [in potential savings], I frankly would say for your own political interest, Kirk Dillard. Last night I said Bruce Rauner was starting to act like Rod Blagojevich; Kirk Dillard is starting to act like Pat Quinn,” Brady said. “Pat Quinn sold out to the unions in the last election. We need a governor who’s willing to stand up for what’s right and not use votes like that or issues like that for political gain.”
* Both of these guys are still vying for second place…
Brady and Dillard got into a dust up when Brady questioned Dillard’s math over savings Dillard said occurred by voting for a Blagojevich-backed bill to refinance the state’s pension obligations.
“Bill, that’s why your business is bankrupt,” Dillard said.
“Wait a second, you want to get into a lawsuit?” Brady shot back. “My business isn’t bankrupt. It’s been through some tough times but it’s not in bankruptcy.”
* Brady did, however, get in some digs at Rauner along the way…
Brady also insisted that he was the only “reliable Republican” in the race, and criticized Rauner — who has spent millions on television ads in his first bid for public office — of trying to buy the race.
“The real question here is: Why should the voters of Illinois trust their vote with Bruce Rauner? Someone that they didn’t even know four months ago,” Brady said. “The three of us have a pretty open book. We’ve got a track record.”