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On cars, Adlai and Bruce

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

* Bloomberg has a somewhat strange story about politicians and their cars

The key to Paul Revere’s fame was his horse. Country singer Hank Williams’ death would have been less memorable had it happened somewhere besides the back of a 1952 Cadillac. When politicians need to communicate, cars speak a uniquely American language.

The recent craze for modest wheels began after Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown piloted a GMC Canyon truck to victory in a Massachusetts special election in 2010. After losing his 2012 re-election bid, he’s driven it to neighboring New Hampshire, where he’s seeking the nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. He features the vehicle in television ads.

In Illinois, Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, who owns nine homes and earned $53 million in 2012, “still drives a 20-year-old camper van, wears an $18 watch and stays in the cheapest hotel rooms he can find,” according to the website of his gubernatorial campaign. He also drives a 2012 Ford Edge and a 2008 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle, said Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman. […]

“The first rule is ‘Buy American,’” said Olga Vicari, general sales manager at Bob Rohrman Schaumburg Ford, in a western Chicago suburb.

The next rule:

“Nothing fancy-schmancy.”

OK, first of all, Paul Revere? And Hank Williams is a country music god. To say his death would’ve been “less memorable” because he died in a Caddy is just weird, man.

* Also, I checked with the secretary of state’s office. Here are all the vehicles registered at Rauner’s Winnetka home address…

2008 Harley Davidson

2012 Ford Edge

1995 BMW motorcycle

1993 VW van

2003 Jeep Liberty

2009 trailer

His rich neighbors must be endlessly amused at that motley collection.

I haven’t seen pictures of him riding his Beemer, so maybe that qualifies as a “scandal” somehow (”The first rule is ‘Buy American’”) but I doubt it.

* Illinois is a major auto manufacturing state, so that “Buy American” advice is spot on. Heck, some labor guys used to constantly rib me for owning a BMW Z-3, even though it was assembled in America. My two current autos (a car and a truck, and, admittedly, both way nicer than Rauner’s) are American-made.

But this story reminded me of something from the distant past, so I fired up the Google and found a June 25, 1986 Tribune article

Gubernatorial candidate Adlai Stevenson was jeered Tuesday at a United Auto Workers convention in Springfield when he acknowledged that he owns a Toyota pick-up truck that he uses on his farm near Hanover, Ill. […]

“I bought a Toyota truck because General Motors couldn’t compete,” Stevenson said […]

“If I had known I was running then I wouldn’t have done it. I regret it now.”

The UAW and the AFL-CIO ended up endorsing Jim Thompson.

Sheesh. Adlai was such a disaster that year. Click here for a full rundown. It was worse than I remembered.

Adlai wasn’t alone, either. The Democrats ran one hapless joke of a gubernatorial campaign after another from 1976 to 1998.

* So, let that be a lesson to all Illinois Republicans. Never lose hope.

1982 was a huge Democratic year due to the recession and the unpopularity of Ronald Reagan’s policies here, but Stevenson narrowly lost to Thompson. Adlai didn’t spend any of his own money that year (and probably would’ve won if he had), but he had no choice but to spend a bundle of personal cash four years later when the LaRouchies forced him off his own ticket and he became radioactive to contributors. 1998 was also a big Democratic year here, but Glenn Poshard tied his own hands behind his back by limiting his campaign contributions and then bowing to pressure from the Tribune to drop a very effective TV ad that tied George Ryan to the deaths of the Willis children.

Rod Blagojevich ran a very good campaign in 2002, no question about it.

* And that’s the other lesson: Careful what you wish for, kids.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    Actually got asked about that by a reporter when I was 15 and I went out to shake Adli’s hand in the Dolton 4th of July parade (he wasn’t able to walk in the parade due to an ankle injury or something) so I walked out to his car to shake his hand as he passed by and a reporter asked me about why I did that and referenced the Toyota pick up truck specifically…

    After I spoke the the reporter and they left, my brother yelled at me for talking to the reporter.

  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Big Jim’s crew thought they had it in a walk in 82. Thanks to Seymour Simon sticking it to Adlai, he never got a recount.

    1986 was a disaster. I was covering Hartigan’s hq primary night and he laughed himself silly when he found out Adlai drew a LaRouchie running mate.

    Are any of those old Chicago LaRouchies still alive? Peter Bowen used to hang in front of the Wrigley Building with a sandwich board railing about the queen and Kissinger.

    They were flat-out creepy.

  3. - William j Kelly - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    It seems strange to me that there are no pictures or video of Rauner’s pre governors race life on the internet. What was so embaresing about these pics that they had to be scrubbed? He didn’t drive a ford to gtcr everyday? Didn’t wear a $1 watch to work? Didn’t wear hunting gear to ken griffins wedding in France?

  4. - Klondike Clapton - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    Rod Blagojevich ran a very good campaign in 2002, no question about it.

    Ugh….if you define running a good campaign as illegally promising donors contracts and appointments in exchange for huge donations then yes he ran a darned good campaign.

  5. - paddyrollingstone - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    I feel badly for Adlai - I was in high school and I recall both campaigns as just being brutal. Saw him at a wake recently and he could not have been more gracious and less full of himself. A bit formal but a nice guy, nonetheless.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    I enjoy these discussions immensely.

    The fine line of “Being yourself” and the “Cardinal Sins” is exactly why a good Crew is needed at the “Varsity” level.

    Which campaign would you want to be a Crew in; one with a very experienced, savy Principle, that has to, at times, overcome Crew mistakes, or an inexperienced Principle, who is prone to Baseline gaffes in speech, lifestyle/choices (cars, clothes, tastes) with an exceptional Crew surrounding the Principle?

    You can go round and round with this. That is why every single campaign is different. Too many variables, even working with the same Crew, make every campaign experience different.

    There is a romance to it. Campaigns have an ebb and flow that the adrenaline of even the bad days make Crews search for the next one to hop on. Even trying to explain away foreign cars, dopey quotes, poor strategy, even poorer candidates, the playing of the game, the moves, even in utter failures like Adlai that campaign, it’s addicting to the adrenaline, even with “Cardinal Sin” mistakes.

    There was my tangent, to the “ramble”, I enjoyed so very much.

  7. - walker - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    Lookin’ for LaRouchies?

    The couple I knew moved over to the Ron Paul campaign; one is now officially Libertarian.

  8. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    The first rule is buy American. The second rule is the first rule isn’t really a rule, it’s just a talking point staff made up that sounded nice.

    Seriously, Bruce, you’re a billionaire. There aren’t any rules for billionaires.

  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    Are any of those old Chicago LaRouchies still alive?

    Ran into Mark Fairchild when I was in college, they were protesting or something at NIU, seemed a bit surprised when I knew who he was.

  10. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    –Lookin’ for LaRouchies?–

    Looking to avoid them, lol. I got a bellyful in 86.

    For those who think MJM is omnipotent, see how the LaRouchies hijacked his boy’s Adlai’s campaign.

    The old man is still alive. Didn’t know that til today.

  11. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    The last time I saw any of the LaRouchies were a couple of old guys hanging out in front of the Walgreens at Chicago and Michigan with a sign reading “Impeach Cheney now and then his monkey.” You can probably picture the graphics. The time stamp on the picture is Halloween, 2003.

  12. - cheryl44 - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    The last time I saw any identifiable LaRouchies was Halloween 2003. That’s the time stamp on the picture I took of their sign, anyway. It was in front of the Walgreens, corner of Michigan and Chicago. The sign read “Impeach Cheney and then his monkey” with suitable graphics.

  13. - cheryl44 - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    Sorry about the double post.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    Let’s not forget Aurelia Pucinski.

    How her career might have been different had she gotten through the Primary that March of 1986.

  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Going back to those old Adlai campaigns, I can’t recall in politics a higher degree of mutual antipathy than that between MJM and Hartigan.

    MJM pulled out all the stops, twice, to push Hartigan out of the gov’s race in 82 and 86. I don’t recall how or if they mended fences when Hartigan got the nod in 90.

  16. - Kurt Sangmeister - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    Unfortunately I know all too well about the whole LaRouchie debacle. My Dad was supposed to be Adalai’s running mate in ‘86 but all Democratic resources were focused on “contested” races. It made nationwide news and still comes up from time to time. Not sure what ever happened to Janice Hart & Mark Fairchild anymore and really don’t care either.

  17. - The Prince - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Whatever happened to Robert Marshall?

  18. - The Prince - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    Al Hofeld ditched his Benz for a Mercury Sable in ‘94. He could probably get away with a foreign car today due to the millennials, etc.

  19. - George - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    I find it troubling that the SOS office will so readily give out vehicle info. Why isn’t that private and only Leo accessible? Seems that info could be used for a number of inscrutable reasons.

  20. - The Prince - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:00 pm:

    Willy: Aurie is still doing OK.

  21. - The Prince - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    George: I think it is supposed to be LEO only.

  22. - The Prince - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    Maybe it has been changed.

  23. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    ===Willy: Aurie is still doing OK.===

    She is.

    Could have been Statewide. Could have moved from there to many more options. That Primary loss led her one way, which worked out, but the “what if” is still out there, and it was propelled by a LaRouchie win all those years ago.

  24. - The Prince - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    The strangest thing, semi-ot, is when Jane Byrne ran for Clerk of the Circuit Court after she was already Mayor. Also, on topic, Rauner probably has fancier vehicles registered elsewhere. The guy has a house on Central Park with a moat. A moat.

  25. - siriusly - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    The drive american cars thing seems so antiquated to me.

    In this state wouldn’t it be okay to drive a Mitsubishi made in Bloomington? Would that be worse than driving a GM car that was made in Canada or Mexico?

  26. - siriusly - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    if there is any italian marble in any of his several huge instead of American stone - clearly he is violating “rule number 1″

  27. - The Prince - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Siriusly: all the profits go to the respective countries where the home office is located. The profits. Draw said conclusion.

  28. - Chunga's Revenge - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    Has anybody checked to see what vehicles are registered to Lord Bruce at his many other mansions?

  29. - ChiGal - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    Um, Rich? That story is by Tim Jones of Bloomberg, not Reuters.

  30. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    ChiGal, thanks. Fixed. Oopsie.

  31. - markg8 - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    I own a Mazda 6 that was built with UAW labor in the same plant in Flat Rock MI where they build Mustangs. My second choice when I bought this car was a Ford Fusion built in Monterrey Mexico. You can’t always tell by the nameplate anymore.

    The last LaRouchie I saw was back in 2007. He was actually trying to bring those crazy ideas into the DuPage Democratic party. The one I recall him pushing was for a huge railroad project connecting Siberia and Alaska. I asked him who is going to use this railroad? Alaska has fewer people in it than DuPage County and probably less industry too.

  32. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 2:53 pm:

    I am sure you hear this a lot, but you dad was a good man and a good congressman…

  33. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    Vehicle registration info is public. Check the Vehicle Code.

  34. - Almost the Weekend - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 4:05 pm:

    This would have been a different state if Poshard won the gubernatorial election in 1998.

  35. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 4:43 pm:

    As an aside, I came across a Lincoln Mark pickup truck the other day.

    I had no idea Lincoln made pickups. Never seen one before.

    What’s the point? Ford dominates the market segment with the F-Series.

    Is the Lincoln supposed to be beter?

    Don’t get it.

  36. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 4:48 pm:

    ==The strangest thing, semi-ot, is when Jane Byrne ran for Clerk of the Circuit Court after she was already Mayor.==

    She was probably looking for relevance to launch another bid for mayor or some other position in the future. Clerk is or was a pretty powerful position patronage wise.

    Anyway, here’s an old Trib article full of names: Byrne, Pucinski, Morgan Finley, state Rep. Joe Berrios, state Rep. Carol Moseley Braun. LaRouche follower Janice Hart was running against Byrne & Pucinski for Court Clerk in ‘88 too.

  37. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 6:08 pm:

    word, Lincoln didn’t sell very many of those rebadged F-Series pickups. Unlike SUV buyers, pickup buyers didn’t appear to lust for the bling.

    The Rauner fleet doesn’t surprise me that much. Many of the .01 percent just don’t like to spend a lot of money on things that depreciate, like fancy cars. But still, a Jeep Liberty? C’mon, man. Buy American, be frugal, but buy something fun to drive.

    OTOH, leased cars may show up at the leasing company’s address instead of the lessee’s depending on the lease terms.

  38. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 6:58 pm:

    –word, Lincoln didn’t sell very many of those rebadged F-Series pickups. Unlike SUV buyers, pickup buyers didn’t appear to lust for the bling.–

    AA, I’m not a gearhead, but I like my trucks and I literally had no idea Lincoln had a pickup.

    SUV, I get. Some people go for that. One of my neighbors has a Mercedes SUV that his young kids abuse like any Dodge mini-van. To each his own.

    But Lincoln pickup? Don’t get it, on any level.

  39. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jun 24, 14 @ 8:41 pm:

    I had to hit the Google to refresh my memory but Lincoln took two swings at the pickup market, word. The first was in 2001 and was a total fail. It was called the Blackwood, for the (fake) black wood side paneling-any paint color you want as long as it was black. No cargo bed

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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