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A “Walker vs. Walker” campaign

Friday, Mar 14, 2014

* James Krohe Jr. has a very good column comparing former Gov. Dan Walker’s rhetoric to Bruce Rauner’s. Walker had a successful private sector career as a vice president and general counsel at Montgomery Ward, and was heavily involved in reform politics

“To those who have grown rich on the public dollar, to those who have won secret grants and contracts, to those in government who put themselves first and the taxpayers second – to you I bring my first message from the people of Illinois: the free ride is over.”

No, that’s not Bruce Rauner practicing his inauguration speech, but Dan Walker, delivering his, in 1973. In personality and political style, these two business successes from the Chicago suburbs are father and son. During his campaign for governor, Walker had pushed buttons worn smooth from long use by underdogs without a platform. He railed against the bureaucrats, the special interests, the experts, the machine. As Rauner is doing, Walker’s anger mobilized a constituency of the discontented, the pissed off, the confused, the uninformed. And Walker, like Rauner, brought an attitude rather than an agenda to the race.

* A very good point

Rauner’s over-simple analyses of Illinois’ complex economic problems (lower taxes, break the unions) remind me of Walker’s naïve belief that the miseries of the Commonwealth, like the miseries of the wider world, were caused by Beelzebub – in the Commmonwealth’s case, one named Daley.

* I’m probably excerpting too much, but the column is that good

Rauner’s first TV commercial (“This old watch cost me 18 bucks”) was vintage Walker in the art of its symbolism and the condescension of its message. Walker favored expensive suits as befits an executive for Montgomery Ward, but affected a working man’s bandanna and chambray work shirt and jeans for his famous walk through southern Illinois that led him to the governor’s mansion. Rauner sensibly does his walking on TV ads, but the Everyman pose is much the same, as is the wardrobe, in his case a Carhartt work jacket of the sort favored by dudes posing as Montana ranchers.

* More

What matters in a governor is his skill at governing and, like the rookie Walker, Rauner has run nothing more complicated than meetings. As a manager, Walker was a failure. He made the mistake, common among businesspeople who enter public service, of thinking that a governor is a merely a CEO with fewer perks; he didn’t realize that being a boss is not the same as being a leader.

* Another good point

Walker promised to “sweep the arrogance of bureaucracy from the halls of power.” Such rhetoric hardly endeared him to the career administrators he needed to make government work. Walker said worse about the Daley Democrats in Springfield, with the result that he couldn’t get a quarter out of the legislature to make a phone call. Rauner has been similarly foolish in his criticism of his own party, recently castigating “probably a third, maybe more, of the Republicans in Springfield” he believes have “sold out to the government union bosses.”

* And the summation

Walker’s legacy was a sour anti-government bias that still deforms the public’s judgment. It led to the voters’ approval, three years after Walker left office, of the constitutional amendment that abolished multi-member districts in the Illinois House. The “reform” failed to improve legislative independence and reduce costs as promised; indeed, the cutback made government more expensive and less independent. I predict that if it passes, Rauner’s term limits measure will come to be seen in the same way.

Pat Quinn, a prime mover of the cutback amendment, was brought into state government by Walker, at whose feet he learned the craft. A Rauner primary win thus will leave Illinois with the unsavory prospect of a Walker vs. Walker campaign come fall. As for the likely outcome, we can safely say that only Illinois will lose.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


35 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    Thanks for bringing this here. I don’t know if I would have seen this. Very interesting and gripping.


  2. - Walker - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    Brilliant.

    When you gloss over the causes, through ignorance or demagoguery, your solutions blow.

    That’s what is scary about Rauner — not his wealth per se.


  3. - Walker - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    Note: Every time I see “Walker” in a headline, I duck under my desk.


  4. - Upon Further Review - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    In hindsight, the Cutback Amendment, pushed by the “Populist” Pat Quinn, proved to be a complete failure: it did not save money as promised (pay increases to the remaining legislators burned through any short term savings); it strengthened the party leaders and weakened individual members; the hacks and rubber stamps remained in office while some of the most thoughtful legislators were forced into retirement; it really decimated Republican activities in the City of Chicago.

    It is probably the best example of the law of unintended consequences in Illinois history.


  5. - Wally - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    Congrats to Rauner for being extremely wealthy. A operson has to be very savvy to earn that kind of juice.

    I still think there will be a large number of people who are considering voting for BR, but when they get ready to punch the name on Tuesday, they will switch to another candidate.


  6. - DuPage - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    I wonder if we will see Rauner “Walk across Illinois”.


  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    The rhetoric is certainly similar.

    But there are key differences between Walker and Rauner.

    Walker wandered into goo-goo politics from Monkey Wards and was a long-time Daley Machine opponent before he became governor.

    Rauner has been a political insider since Jump Street. For years, he’s been one of the biggest sugar daddies to the incumbent Illinois political class. He’s one of them, unlike Walker.

    Rauner’s used the access that money buys to leverage business dependent on political influence: pension funds, the Rahm/Daley SBC score.

    Rauner talks like Walker (and Blago, too), but to me, that only proves that he’s an even bigger phony than Walker ever was. And that’s saying something.


  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    === In hindsight ===

    Reducing the number of members in a legislative body always concentrates power.

    That is just simple physics.


  9. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    I’ve seen the Blago comparison more easily because of the proximity of time and experience. Krohe’s column makes a good case for the Walker comparison.


  10. - State employee - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    Brilliant.


  11. - Oneman - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    A member of my family has made the exact same point. I think the world is a little different now, but it will be interesting to see Walker vs Walker


  12. - Anon - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    An astute analysis and convincing comparison.


  13. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    === I wonder if we will see Rauner “Walk across Illinois”. ===

    No, he’s walking across public workers.


  14. - x ace - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    Young and Naive , bought Walker’s spiel.

    Old and Battered, No Listen- No Rauner.


  15. - dupage dan - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    I wonder if Rauner will get his bandanas from Carhartt.


  16. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    Really?
    We are going to compare Bruce Rauner with Dan Walker - but completely ignore how Dan Walker’s doppelganger is currently governor?

    While there are probably threads of similarities among all candidates running as outsiders, Dan Walker was the Jimmy Carter or Pat Quinn of governors in 1972. Dan Walker rode a wave to be elected as an antidote towards our state government’s lack of morality, not as an antidote towards our state government’s lack of solvency. Walker and Quinn come from the late 1960s sense of choosing a governor not based on administrative abilities, but on personal qualities.

    Walker didn’t challenge Daley because he believed that the Mayor couldn’t do his job. He challenged Daley because Daley controlled the Democratic Political machine and really hated Dan Walker who personally humiliated Daley with his Walker Report.

    Rauner is challenging a Governor. Rauner is accused of working too closely with Chicago’s Mayor. They are vacationing buddies, for crying out loud! Rauner supported Emanuel’s candidacy!

    Good Lord. Then there is the fact that Rauner is running on fiscal issues. Walker didn’t do that.

    Rauner built his businesses and fortune. Walker was an Organization Man from a giant corporation, he didn’t build anything - Dan Walker rode on the coattails of the Ward executives who did all the heavy lifting and all the tough decision making. Dan Walker rode into the governor’s office without a clue how to recreate or rebuild. As governor Walker couldn’t do anything except hold press conferences, play PR games and -

    set the course of action we have been seeing and are seeing today by Governor Pat Quinn, Mr. Walker’s spiritual successor.

    Please - Rauner/Walker? Oh - that’s sad.


  17. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    ===but completely ignore how Dan Walker’s doppelganger is currently governor?===

    Um, it’s there. It’s also in the headline.

    Take a breath.


  18. - Publius - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    Excellent column. I have been telling my friends about the similarities, but not as elloquently.

    As to the cutback amendment, the real effect was to destroy a co-operative spirit in the legislature. We used to have at least one member of each party in every legislative district in the state. There were even Chicago Republicans there. But now only Democrats represent the city, so Chicago’s problems don’t concern Republicans any more. The reverse is true in other areas of the state. So no one has collegues of the other party from his district. Collegiality across the aisle is almost a thing of the past, and a rallying point for minority parties in legislative districts is list.


  19. - Publius - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    lost


  20. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    And “reform” bankrolled by multi-millionaires and billionaires should always be viewed with suspicion.


  21. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    As for the likely outcome, we can safely say that only Illinois will lose.

    Walker got elected over Ogilsby, whom many feel was an amazing governor, but dumped by voters because of his enactment of the state income tax.

    Walker also beat Paul Simon for the nomination. Instead of a Paul Simon governorship during the early 1970s, we got Walker and Thompson. Simon was attractive as the non-Chicago candidate as well. Walker needed to trump Simon, as Simon not only had Daley’s endorsement and his Downstate credentials, but Walker’s “walk” across Illinois turned Daley’s endorsement into a Simon curse, which effected Simon’s downstate support and vilified Daley.

    Remember also that once Walker got into office, he expected Daley to give him the time of day after spending millions vilifying him.

    Walker was a mess. He comes from a genre of politicians from the post-Woodstock era who sold themselves as politicians “as good as the American People”.

    It is a stretch to call Rauner another Walker, based on campaign apparel and outsider messages.


  22. - Walker - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    VMan: Senior corporate manager skills much closer to governor requirements, than successful entrepreneur or high finance skills, in my experience. Nowhere near Rauner, but some modest success in all three arenas. Even so, the demands are different.

    But above point is, if you don’t understand the causes, and operating conditions, you won’t get to the best solutions.


  23. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    ===It is a stretch to call Rauner another Walker, based on campaign apparel and outsider messages.===

    Welp, that is what both Bruce Rauners do.

    Rich even has a whole Post…Today…called,…

    “The man who can’t, or won’t provide a straight answer to anything.”

    So…

    If all you can judge a candidate on is his appearance and rhetoric, the column gets to that, pretty well.

    Man, your defense of Rauner now is bordering on “support”, but I base that on what you Comment and the argument you make, so I guess that must be wrong too?


  24. - Artis Gilmore - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    Stakes is High


  25. - A guy... - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    You guys need to get your center of gravity back here. There are now Bogeymen everywhere and ghosts of campaign’s past. OY.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    ===You guys need to get your center of gravity back here. There are now Bogeymen everywhere and ghosts of campaign’s past. OY.===

    ===* James Krohe Jr. has a very good column comparing former Gov. Dan Walker’s rhetoric to Bruce Rauner’s.===

    It appears Rich Posted this and we are commenting on the comparison. So, what is your point about seeing Boogeymen and ghosts?


  27. - aunt_petunia - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    If you run a Walker against a Walker, then the Walker wins every time.


  28. - Meanderthal - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    Boy, reading that brings back some headaches.
    Not entirely an apt comparison, other than both try to appeal to the “commoner” in the same fashion.
    Rauner will not have a powerful presence like Mayor Daley to deal with in his own party. In fact, the GOP seems hungry for someone like Rauner to take over and build a party structure that suits his needs.


  29. - lake county democrat - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 1:36 pm:

    But one difference between Walker and Rauner: Walker needed to lead a party of “yes” - Rauner would be happy to lead a party of “no.” Show me some examples where gutting services to the underclass and working poor getting gutted for the benefit of the middle and upper class has been bad politics and I’ll show you a mayor, not a governor.


  30. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    In the famous words of one of our own:
    WOW, that’s BLEEPING golden!


  31. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 2:54 pm:

    Very interesting analysis


  32. - Generation X - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 3:02 pm:

    Walker v Walker. Brought to you by the state who elected Blago twice. We get what we vote for


  33. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    V Man - Walker beat Richard Ogilvie in 1972. Richard Oglesby was governor from 1865-1869. I’m only old enough to remember the 2d Richard O.


  34. - Anony - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 3:38 pm:

    According to Zorn, Rauner is the next Blago. According to Krohe, he’s the next Walker.
    Why wait? Let’s just slap the cuffs on him now.

    ==What matters in a governor is his skill at governing and, like the rookie Walker, Rauner has run nothing more complicated than meetings.==
    In contrast to Ronald Reagan’s extensive experience before becoming governor of California.

    ==Rauner sensibly does his walking on TV ads, but the Everyman pose is much the same, as is the wardrobe, in his case a Carhartt work jacket of the sort favored by dudes posing as Montana ranchers.==
    This is a staple of politics. There was a certain fellow who liked to be shown clearing brush at his ranch who is still viewed rather favorably by Republicans.

    ==The “reform” failed to improve legislative independence and reduce costs as promised; indeed, the cutback made government more expensive and less independent. I predict that if it passes, Rauner’s term limits measure will come to be seen in the same way.==
    In a few states, term limits have been overturned by legislators who were about to lose their jobs because of term limits. In how many states have they been overturned by an actual vote of the people?

    ==A Rauner primary win thus will leave Illinois with the unsavory prospect of a Walker vs. Walker campaign come fall. As for the likely outcome, we can safely say that only Illinois will lose.==
    Is Illinois “winning” now? Mr. Krohe might suggest which of the other profiles in courage he recommends.


  35. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 4:11 pm:

    ==In how many states have they been overturned by an actual vote of the people?==

    That’s probably because the voters in those states are too lazy to vote as evidence by the fact that term limits are even in place. Term limits are for people who are too lazy, or conversely for those who want to make the law do what they are unable to do at the ballot box.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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