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On Edgar, billionaires and what’s ahead

Monday, Aug 18, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

I’m not sure why, but the surprise appearance by former Gov. Jim Edgar at the Illinois State Fair’s Republican Day last week didn’t generate much media coverage.

Despite the fact that Edgar is a Republican, this was not an easy “get” for Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner. I’m told it took weeks of careful wooing and negotiations through one of Edgar’s old cronies. Edgar backed state Sen. Kirk Dillard in the GOP primary against Rauner, but he has also expressed public and private concerns about how Rauner is portraying himself on the stump and about how that confrontational attitude could manifest itself if he’s elected governor.

Another reason why I’m perplexed by the lack of coverage is that Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has repeatedly gone out of his way to praise Edgar since Dillard’s Republican primary loss. Quinn consulted with Edgar before his post-primary budget address, seeking his advice on keeping the income tax at current levels and providing some property tax relief. Quinn then mentioned Edgar by name during his actual address, saying the former governor was right to keep a tax hike in place.

If Quinn was hoping to somehow neutralize the still popular Edgar, he failed miserably. Edgar said at the State Fair last week that not only did Rauner have an opportunity to finally end one-party rule, but “The Blagojevich-Quinn governorship has been a disaster for Illinois.”

Oh, man, that’s gonna leave a mark.

“Outsiders” can make some Illinoisans uncomfortable. Despite the blathering of editorial boards and pundits, quite a few voters here subconsciously or otherwise still “don’t want nobody what nobody sent.” The Edgar endorsement could go a very long way toward soothing fears by moderate to liberal independents about how Rauner may be just too new, too unknown and too risky to be trusted with the office.

Meanwhile, four years ago I wrote that Gov. Quinn wouldn’t know a campaign theme if it was bleeding to death in his front yard. His 2010 State Fair Governor’s Day speech was rambling, disjointed and unfocused. Not this year. Quinn’s theme so far is pretty darned clear: Bruce Rauner is an out of touch billionaire whose policies would harm working people.

But can it work? So far, the attacks seem almost juvenile, catty and not well produced. “Look! Over there! Rauner is rich! He’s rich, I tells ya!”

The Quinn campaign appears to be following the Obama 2012 script very closely (and that script was based in part on Quinn’s 2010 campaign against Bill Brady). The first thing they have to do is establish in voters’ minds that Rauner is a plutocrat. Once that message is baked in, the big hits connecting him to nursing home and hospital deaths and whatever else the Quinnsters have in their opposition research files can be dumped on Rauner’s head.

The political professionals who attended Governor’s Day this year weren’t confident at all that Quinn could pull this off. Then again, they had zero confidence in Quinn four years ago and he managed to edge out Brady. But, of course, there’s no third party candidate willing to spend close to $4 million and split the anti-Quinn vote with Rauner this year, as there was in 2010.

In contrast, the GOP operatives who attended Republican Day four years ago were upbeat and hopeful, but quite concerned about the physical mechanics of GOP nominee state Sen. Bill Brady’s campaign. Those fears turned out to be justified. This time around, there were few if any fears expressed about the way their guy is running his show.

And probably for good reason. The Rauner folks say that the Republican Governors Association has been tracking the number of contacts made at the doors by GOP gubernatorial campaigns. Rauner’s door-to-door contact effort so far ranks number one in the nation - even ahead of Texas, which has a far larger population than Illinois.

Rauner, by the way, left after his State Fair appearance for a 38-county bus trip blitz through Downstate Illinois. The schedule looks brutal.

The idea is to pack as many Downstate appearances in before Labor Day and then focus mainly on the Chicago media market until November. It’s the smart move because Downstate is so huge that it can’t be easily and quickly traversed.

The governor, on the other hand, has focused much of his summertime attention on the Chicago area, perhaps because polls show he has real trouble with his Democratic “base.”

* Related…

* Erickson: State Fair offers glimpse of fall campaign season

* Finke: GOP seemed energized at the fair, for once - In the past few years, Republicans often sounded like they were just going through the motions during their state fair rally. This year, not the case.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


19 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 8:35 am:

    The Jim Edgar embrace is another example of the two Rauners.

    Career Politician? Check. Teacher? Check. Republican that has worked with Unions? Check.

    I can’t get enough of Edgar. The last endorsement Jim Edgar made for a governor candidate that made the difference was his endorsement of Jim Edgar.

    Still waiting to find out the 22 corrupt GOP members of the General Assembly.


  2. - Stones - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 8:36 am:

    I really doesn’t surprise me that Jim Edgar is backing another Republican Bruce Rauner publically. That’s what fellow Republicans and Democrats generally do for each other. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t get along with PQ personally (or may even cast his own vote for him).

    Tying Quinn to Blago has been a central theme of Rauner’s campaign because it sells. Ironic in that by all accounts Quinn and Blago couldn’t stand each other and rarely even spoke.


  3. - VanillaMan - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 8:57 am:

    Would you like to see two political parties in Illinois? Then how many times do you believe one of them can continue to fail statewide and continue barely holding on in the General Assembly?

    The Illinois Republican Party has to win in 2014, or it will be all but officially dead. It cannot win the House or Senate. It cannot win most of the statewide offices. It has the only chance of relevancy with a Rauner win in November. The Party is on life support. Another loss like the ones from 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 will end it.

    We’re not just talking about the governor’s office, but as a political party within Illinois. The ILGOP has little to no presence in Cook County elected offices, little to zero presence in Chicago elected offices, and has had to face veto-proof Michael J. Madigan’s General Assembly for a long time. While it is always bad to have a government swing to single-party rule to such an extreme - what we’ve seen in Illinois is a party killer.

    If you are not a liberal, you are not represented strongly in Illinois. If you hold traditional values, you are not only unrepresented in Illinois, the laws you do get through aren’t enforced. Illinois is no longer has a bipartisan government statewide or in it’s largest cities.

    Consequently, ILGOP is an endangered species, and according to most of the blogging I have read here over the past decade - a whole lot of bloggers think the extermination of the Republican Party would be a good thing.

    It wouldn’t be. We have to have two healthy political parties in Illinois if we want to create effective government and law. We cannot allow one political party do dominate government to such an extent, yet demand that all Illinoisans support it. That doesn’t work.

    So complain all you want about Bruce Rauner, but if he goes down - so does the Illinois Republican Party. It will be over as a viable alternative to the Illinois Democratic Party. In the real world of politics, you cannot be the lovable Chicago Cubs and lose for over a decade. You have to win or you will go out of business.

    Edgar gets it. A whole lot of those old fashioned ILGOP leaders get it. ILGOP hasn’t been on a losing streak - it is permanently losing and if it loses in 2014, it will go the way of the Whigs.

    We haven’t seen anything like that before, so I’m sure there are many who will point out reasons that this is wrong, and that with a Rauner loss, the GOP can survive. Yet - I tell you now, another loss will end the GOP. Period.


  4. - BehindTheScenes - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 9:25 am:

    Quinn’s ads are already the classic Democratic class warfare at it’s worst (and the election is 11 weeks from tomorrow). As if it’s a sin to actually make money, to have companies and amass a large amount of wealth. Try polling the voters who envy or admire a guy who pulled himself up the way Rauner did and earned what he has without hand-outs.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    ===, and has had to face veto-proof Michael J. Madigan’s General Assembly for a long time.===

    Just this last session, so what do you mean had to face a veto proof GA for a long time?

    ===If you are not a liberal, you are not represented strongly in Illinois.===

    Conceal Carry? Hmmm.

    ===Consequently, ILGOP is an endangered species, and according to most of the blogging I have read here over the past decade - a whole lot of bloggers think the extermination of the Republican Party would be a good thing.===

    I haven’t read that. I have read about Slytherins and planks and musts, always, nevers, and alwayses…

    You may have to clear that up.

    ===We haven’t seen anything like that before, so I’m sure there are many who will point out reasons that this is wrong, and that with a Rauner loss, the GOP can survive. Yet - I tell you now, another loss will end the GOP. Period.===

    I am sure after 1994, and the 20+ years of GOP governors, and Pate ruling the senate, the Dems had their own “chicken little” moments.

    Rauner isn’t the savior. Rauner is consolidating the GOP to be Raunerites. That is what’s happening.

    ===So complain all you want about Bruce Rauner, but if he goes down - so does the Illinois Republican Party. ===

    Is this where you told us to “shut up”?

    Isn’t that what the GOP complained about MJM and being chairman for Blago? Isn’t this what the GOP complains about Dems who can’t stand MJM but vote for him for Speaker?

    Were the Dems saving the Democratic Party by supporting Rod over Comptroller Topinka?

    I promised myself after Rod; if My Party found itself with a Rod choice, I wouldn’t “shut up” as I see the possible badness of governing coming from the embodiment of hypocrisy.

    I am excited for Leader Durkin attempting to turn things around, even if he has 15 corrupt members, according to the savior Bruce Rauner.

    I won’t “shut up” about the Rod of the GOP, I won’t get “in line” due to a “chicken little” mentality, and I won’t believe that hypocrisy is seen in one party and not in My Party, which in of itself, hypocritical.

    But, if it’s good enough for Ronald Reagan, or endorsed by Jim Edgar…


  6. - Frenchie Mendoza - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 9:46 am:


    So complain all you want about Bruce Rauner, but if he goes down - so does the Illinois Republican Party. It will be over as a viable alternative to the Illinois Democratic Party.

    Meh.

    Rauner wins, the state goes into a spiral where the rich get richer, the poor stay poorer, and state services come to a four year halt.

    Me, I’ll take my chances on pulling the plug on GOP life support. Bring me an actual GOP candidate instead of some rich guy — and we’ll talk.


  7. - Demoralized - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    ==If you hold traditional values, you are not only unrepresented in Illinois, the laws you do get through aren’t enforced.==

    What kind of baloney is that? Traditional values? Values and political parties aren’t mutually exclusive genius.


  8. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    –So complain all you want about Bruce Rauner, but if he goes down - so does the Illinois Republican Party. It will be over as a viable alternative to the Illinois Democratic Party.–

    LOL. Try the decaf.

    I was a little surprised Edgar stood up for Rauner. The Baron’s whole schtick is that career politicians in Springfield are corrupt and screwups, and Edgar is nothing but a career Springfield politician.

    It must stick in Edgar’s craw, too, that Rauner can whale on guys like him as an “outsider,” when he knows full well that Rauner is the ultimate insider.


  9. - Perry Noya - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    Frenchie, do you really believe that under the last 12 years of Dem rule, the rich have not gotten richer and the poor have not stayed poorer?


  10. - walker - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    Edgar speaking there didn’t surprise.
    His delivery of the line “Blagojevich-Quinn governorship” did. It will indeed have some impact as it’s regularly used, because it strikes right at the reason some independents voted for Quinn-The-Reformer the first time around.

    Last night I was walking the dog, and came across a group of (Cook Co suburbs) neighbors enjoying the evening. They called me over and wanted to know about “this guy Rauner.” After some to and fro, the consensus of the group was “Well, at least he will freeze our property taxes.”

    No amount of rationale or truth can take the shine off that gem.


  11. - Sir Reel - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    “… rambling, disjointed, unfocused …”

    Kinda describes Quinn’s governorship.


  12. - North Shore Joe - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Rich, I think your Springfield bias is leading you to overestimate the impact/news-worthiness of an Edgar endorsement.


  13. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    ==- walker - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 10:14 am:==

    Did you inform them the governor has no power to freeze property taxes?


  14. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Edgar had a great amount of public goodwill and clout, as well as a lot of campaign cash in hand to help strengthen what was supposed to be “his” party. Edgar was a classic case of that “ask not what you can do for your party. Ask what your party can do for you!” Kind of pol.He used his GOP political connections to line his pckets with that ridiculous U of I six figure “lecturer” gig, and I’m sure he gots a lot of goodies for political “services rendered”.

    Anybody out there know about ANYTHING he’s done since he left the Guv’s mansion that was a sacrifice to him for the good of the party and the GOP rank and file?

    Maybe I’m out of the loop, but I haven’t heard a single one.


  15. - RNUG - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    - walker - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    Did you mention that if Rauner pushs through or signs off on a shift of the normal TRS pension cost to the local districts, he will cause a property tax increase? That’s probably coming regardless of who is Gov next year.


  16. - dupage dan - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    === Would you like to see two political parties in Illinois? ===

    Quinn vs Emanuel


  17. - downstate hack - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    Anybody out there know about ANYTHING he’s done since he left the Guv’s mansion that was a sacrifice to him for the good of the party and the GOP rank and file?

    He did NOT run for Senator. (snark)


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    To Jim Edgar,

    I am a big fan of Jim Edgar.

    Edgar’s endorsements seem to fall very flat, post political career.

    When governor, both sides of the aisle, in both chambers, didn’t mind themselves some Edgar, in a ribbon cutting, mailer, whatever.

    It is what it is, as was his speech at the fair.

    It’s the Rauner hypocrisy at play, not Edgar’s integrity.


  19. - walker - Monday, Aug 18, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    To those who want to know if I used some of the arguments/criticisms of Rauner, and if he could in fact “freeze your property tax” as he claims — yes

    But the lure of that property tax freeze, around here, overpowered any ability to hear much else. One person said “I’d vote for him just for that, even if he had only a one per cent chance to do it.”

    It’s a political winner.


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