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Rauner and Madigan

Monday, Nov 25, 2013

* My Sun-Times column

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has made no bones about his eagerness to take on House Speaker Michael Madigan if he’s elected.

Rauner constantly claims he is the best man for the job of cutting the entrenched, powerful Democrat down to size.

The other three Republican candidates also claim that they are the best people to deal with Madigan. But Rauner has been more forceful than all of them put together, going so far as to say he will “stand up to Madigan, because I know where his special interest groups are, and I can go after them.”

Much of this is just red meat for the GOP masses, who despise Madigan. Heck, some of the same folks who are backing Rauner now have also backed Madigan or worked with him.

Ken Griffin, the richest man in the state, gave half a million dollars to Stand for Children’s Illinois political action committee back in 2010. So did a lot of other Rauner pals. Rauner himself takes credit for bringing the school reform group into this state. And as part of Rauner’s own legislative strategy, the group made huge contributions to several of Speaker Madigan’s candidates. They kicked in $50,000 to Madigan last year for good measure.

So, if Rauner “goes after” Madigan’s special interest groups, at least some of them will be his own friends.

Rauner is no fan of teachers’ unions, and those unions, in turn, really don’t care for Speaker Madigan, either. Indeed, Madigan eagerly took all that cash from Stand for Children in 2010 because he was warring with the teachers unions over education reform.

Rauner also detests AFSCME, the union that represents state workers. Madigan is no fan of that union, either, which has boycotted contributions to his campaign committees. Mention the name of the union’s executive director Henry Bayer to Madigan and he rolls his eyes. Last year when AFSCME was backing a candidate for the Illinois House who was also a member of the union, Madigan barely lifted a finger to help the guy.

And, of course, the public employee unions are all up in arms over the way Madigan has pushed to cut pension benefits.

Would Madigan like to see AFSCME’s wings clipped? Probably so. Same goes for the teachers’ unions.

Madigan pushed for gay marriage, Rauner says he doesn’t oppose it. Both men spend a lot of time hanging out with rich people, corporate CEO’s, etc. They speak much the same language.

They do have their differences, of course, but it’s mainly a matter of degree. Rauner is pushing hard for term limits, but his proposed constitutional amendment won’t take effect until January 1, 2023. By then, Madigan will be almost 81 years old.

Frankly, I think both men could work together pretty well if Rauner is elected. They both have a keen understanding of how money and politics intertwine, for example. Rauner was one of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s largest contributors. He made Mayor Rahm Emanuel a millionaire by hooking him up with a sweet corporate deal. He understands, like Madigan, that the best way to a politician’s heart is through his wallet. They speak the same language.

But, maybe Rauner won’t want to work together. It’s very possible that he could take the Rod Blagojevich route, declare war on Madigan, shut down government and generally make a disaster of things. A little “creative destruction” is necessary every now and then, but Blagojevich always took things way too far.

If that turns out to be Rauner’s chosen path, well, Madigan has plenty of experience dealing with such matters.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 9:49 am:

    Those whose outlook is informed by national ideological talking points never get one thing about Illinois:

    A lot of union state employees and pensioneers came up in the long GOP Thompson/Edgar/Ryan run. And those guys located a lot of state facilities with union public employees in solid GOP districts.

    Rauner might learn that the hard way in a four-way GOP primary.

  2. - walkinfool - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 9:51 am:

    Madigan doesn’t label well. Neither does Rauner.

    They seem to share a lot of attributes, friends and opponents.

    One difference: Rauner has more $million+ mansions around the country, than even Romney.

  3. - And I Approved This Message - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 9:51 am:

    Mike Madigan already sort of is down to size isn’t he?

  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:01 am:

    ===Frankly, I think both men could work together pretty well if Rauner is elected. They both have a keen understanding of how money and politics intertwine, for example. Rauner was one of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s largest contributors. He made Mayor Rahm Emanuel a millionaire by hooking him up with a sweet corporate deal. He understands, like Madigan, that the best way to a politician’s heart is through his wallet. They speak the same language.

    But, maybe Rauner won’t want to work together. It’s very possible that he could take the Rod Blagojevich route, declare war on Madigan, shut down government and generally make a disaster of things. A little “creative destruction” is necessary every now and then, but Blagojevich always took things way too far.===

    That has always been my “takeaway” from the hyperbole of Bruce Rauner; “Shaking things up” sounds more “Blagovian” than “Edgar-ian” or probably the closer case Rich makes which moght be “Thompson-esque”

    Marry thjose thoughts and Republican Bruce Rauner with the connections to Rich Daley and Rahm Emanuel, but a “foil” to MJM could work, if the end game is to govern within the Constitution of the state of Illinois and understanding himself (Bruce Rauner) and not the “Bruce Rauner” who tries so desperately to be that “Republican” that his resume, his credentials, and his lifestyle fail to show while Bruce Rauner lives his life in reality.

    With it being Filing Day, (One of my favorite days, but I don’t want to digress, but it needs to be pointed out …), how much, if you could get Bruce Rauner to admit very candidly, would Bruve Rauner would have liked to take on Pat Quinn in the Primary, and then get any of the other 3 in the General, given the life, the true life, Bruce Rauner lives versus the “Bruce Rauner” is trying to sell during the Primary.

    Also, Jim Oberweis is no “help” come March. Could have avoided that, got Quinn early, and faced a very depleated GOP Nomineee…with … Jim Oberweis at the top of the ticket … and … still…be the “guy” who will take on MJM, like a Dem form of “Thompson” or “Edgar”, without fighting for the #1 Democrat in Illinois.

    I would love to ask that of the Bruce Rauner who wants to be rational, and not the “Bruce Rauner” either wearing the Carhartt or vest, and the buzz words, and the denying all the Daley and Rahm connections. Taht would be worth a Beer for me.


  5. - Downstater - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:02 am:

    Somebody has to do something about the pension mess. The unpaid bills just climbed to $8.5 billion, up $3 billion, since the spring.
    The unions used their influence and dollars to get better and better benefits, which were unsustainable. Now, the chickens have come home too roast. Rauner is in a campaign. He has to talk tough, but he should be able to work with Madigan. Actually, Madigan has worked well, with all the Republican Governors.

  6. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:07 am:

    “Rauner also detests AFSCME”

    Why? We didn’t stop him from making his fortune. Also, from what I have seen, public union employees are not primarily responsible for causing the pension crisis. It was overwhelmingly caused by politicians borrowing to make pension payments. The low state income tax and resulting structural revenue deficit are also culprits in our budget woes.

    I personally have supported pension reform that might require me to pay a little more, but I will not be the scapegoat for this crisis, no way in Hades.

  7. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:19 am:

    “He made Rahm Emanuel a millionaire by hooking him up with a sweet corporate deal.”

    Many of us who are union members and government employees didn’t get hooked up. We walked in the door, took tests, were placed on waiting lists and got hired as a result of our credentials. Plus, when we negotiate our contracts, it’s done above-board, not in secret deals. Our salaries and names are even publicly available. Rauner talks about corruption in state government, but hooking up politicians with “sweet” corporate deals doesn’t smack of honesty and integrity.

  8. - Bemused - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:28 am:

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of State workers in Sangamon County are members of a union and consider themselves Republican Voters. In the last few months I have talked with a few who fit the above description. I am not seeing Bruce’s message resonate with them.

  9. - A guy... - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    Good article Rich. Could’ve written this one myself. I’ve suggested all along that Madigan might even prefer Rauner over all of the rest. The one thing both of them understand clearly is how to negotiate.

  10. - dollarocracy - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    This is just more evidence that we are moving closer to one party rule in Illinois. That there isn’t much difference between the head of the IL. Democratic party and a right wing Republican says a lot. Now we should add C instead of D or R.
    The Corporate party is all about catering to the guys who can make the big campaign contributions, regardless of how badly you screw over the middle class.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:45 am:

    - dollarocracy -,

    Just don’t use “Combine” or refer to Beer Can Chicken, and you have some good thoughts.

  12. - walkinfool - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:47 am:

    A guy: You’ve got a really good handle on this.

    However, we are assuming strength and skills for Rauner, which have yet to be proven in the public arena. If he’s actually that good, then Madigan will deal well with him. If he’s mostly hot air, game over.

    If Rauner tries to succeed by dominating or undercutting Madigan, then it’s “back to the North Shore for you boyo.”

  13. - the Patriot - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    Never voted for a democrat governor, and I think I am leaning Quinn. He will fight Madigan and with Vallas, may actually fix the budget.

    Tired of the Republicans recycling the book of talking points titled “how to lose a statewide election in IL”

    If you want to win, educate the electorate and make it clear. When you vote for a democrat for the legislature, you vote for Madigan. Most people think their guy is not the problem, it is all Madigan, but don’t understand that Bradley, Phelps, and all the other “ok” guys give the keys to the car to Madigan on day one and the session is over.

    2. Teachers and AFSCME members are not the problem. The 2 dozen people at the top of these organizations are.

    Support state workers and teachers and fight to get them a voice in their pensions. 401K’s to get the money in control of the workers, not Union heads and not democrats in Chicago. Fight to balance the budget and cut back on entitlements so those who are willing to work in the private and public sector can earn a living wage.

    Or use the same talking points and get whipped by Pat Quinn again.

  14. - Norseman - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    Raunerbo + Madigan = Wisconsin Walker?

    I have no problem accepting the premise that Raunerbo and Madigan would work well together on issues that stick it to public employee unions. The points of contention will revolve around other social service spending. Madigan needs to be responsive to his caucus’ desire to increase that spending (at least keep up with inflation) using the “savings” from the cuts to public workers benefits. This will also require making the “temporary” tax increase permanent. A priority that will be high on Madigan’s list and is supposed to be low on Raunerbo’s list.

  15. - truth hurts sometimes - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    Madigan would just run circles around Rauner like he did with Blago and Quinn.

    Running a business is far different than running a State.

  16. - Cheswick - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 12:00 pm:

    What I hear Rauner saying when he says he’s going to take on Madigan is, “I’ll do anything and everything I can to block Speaker Madigan.” Like that’s some noble cause we can all get behind.

    Where are the GOP candidates that want to work with Speaker Madigan, as opposed to taking him on?

    I’m beginning to wonder if the $18.00 watch was more a metaphor for what won’t get done on Rauner’s watch. As in “ain’t nothing gonna get done on my watch.”

  17. - A guy... - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 12:07 pm:

    Cheswick, time to reread Rich’s essay. Campaigns are about “taking on Madigan”. Victory speeches are about “working with Madigan” and vice versa.

  18. - downstate commissioner - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    If Rauner doesn’t “take on” Madigan, he will have some supporters pretty upset-they want to see Madigan vanquished. On the other hand, if he is dumb enough to try to run over Madigan, he deserves what he gets… (For instance, Blagojevich is in jail…)

  19. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    “Teachers and AFSCME members are not the problem. The 2 dozen people at the top of these organizations are.”

    Nice bit of concern trolling, so that you can try to pit us against our leaders in order to get us to swallow the IPI/Civic Committee line:

    “Support state workers and teachers and fight to get them a voice in their pensions. 401K’s to get the money in control of the workers, not union heads”

    Very Raunerian.

  20. - brianod1 - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    While a wealthy candidate might, might, be able to win a Republican or Democrat primary, he or she would face long odds in the general election. Regular people want someone with whom they can relate, and given the list of properties owned by Rauner, he would be unable to relate to the ordinary concerns of ordinary people. He might think he can, but he can’t.

  21. - qcexaminer - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 1:54 pm:

    “Running a business is far different than running a State.”

    Rich’s Rule: “…please try to be a little bit original.”

  22. - Ghost - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 2:54 pm:

    So why does Rauner hate AFSCME? becuase they have been wildely successful and pushing as hard as they can for their memebers? I disagree with some of what they have obtained, but its not AFSCME fault they were aggressive and have won.

    After all, I wouldn’t despise Rauner for making millions off the backs of poor investors unable to negotiate lower fees themselves, and totaly working his position to maximize his profits inspite of what may be in the best interest of the peoples whose money he managed.

    Actually the State has had more say in the AFSCME contracts then Rauners investors have had in their fees…so who is the monster here?

  23. - Rod - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 3:14 pm:

    Mr. Rauner was willing to work with Democrats in Chicago to achieve his conservative objectives in the education sector in a city that has zero elected Republicans but that is very different than functioning on a state level. Mr. Rauner is not running just to become Governor but to bring to our state a conservative agenda including making this a right to work state.

    In order to maintain his current level of power the Speaker will need in a low key way to simply crush Rauner by pushing a big turn out. Governor Quinn’s victory will be less his own than the Speaker’s victory and Quinn will be even more dependent on the Speaker.

    I believe that Mr Rauner’s rhetoric about the Speaker reflect a deeper pathological hatred of those who he believes limit unfettered markets and privatization which he equates with freedom. Never once did past Republican Governors that the Speaker was able to work with as Rich correctly noted directly target the Speaker as the enemy.

    Let’s recall the last time Republicans tried to make the Speaker the issue and printed up posters with Speaker Madigan, Mao, and Stalin. Did that work too well?

  24. - walkinfool - Monday, Nov 25, 13 @ 3:44 pm:

    === Mr. Rauner’s rhetoric … reflect a deeper pathological hatred ===


    time for a little edit?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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