* If you Google “GTCR” and “Niche” you get about 136,000 results. That was the inspiration for my Crain’s Chicago Business column…
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner leads Gov. Pat Quinn in every poll. Prognosticator Nate Silver recently gave Mr. Rauner a 75 percent chance of victory.
But since Illinois is such a traditionally Democratic state, Mr. Rauner appears to be using a lesson he learned at his former private-equity firm as a road map to victory.
Under his leadership, Chicago-based GTCR LLC specialized in buying successful “niche” companies and then using their profits and expertise to expand in their respective industries.
Mr. Rauner followed this niche approach to win the GOP nomination. He started with his big-business pals, who in the past have been divided over candidates. But this time they were all with him, including those who previously had supported his opponents.
Because he’s pro-choice, Mr. Rauner had some trouble gaining traction with tea party groups, which still have some power, at least nationwide, as U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor learned to his dismay on June 10. But a new tea party chapter popped up in January in the southwest suburbs. Mr. Rauner has used that group’s kindness, along with his backing for term limits to push state legislators out of office, to eventually make some inroads.
All of that and much more combined to help him win a narrow victory in the March 20 primary.
Mr. Rauner is using the same strategy for Nov. 4.
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