* The governor recently asked him to stay on, so this is, by far, the biggest Rauner defection of the week. Boom…
Xpress Professional Services, Inc. (XPS) today announced that Mike Zolnierowicz of Chicago will head up XPS’ political operation starting Monday, July 17 and will concentrate on building the firm’s strategic political service. According to XPS Chief Executive Officer Greg Baise, Zolnierowicz’ background in political campaigns and his administrative experience as Chief of Staff for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner dovetails perfectly with XPS’ business portfolio.
“Mike Z has proven himself both on the campaign trail and at the administrative helm of state government,” Baise said. “His understanding of the political environment extends beyond Illinois’ border, and his list of accomplishments is second to none in this very complex arena.”
After serving as Deputy Campaign Manager of Governor Bruce Rauner’s election campaign, Zolnierowicz—known simply as Mike Z to most in the political world— served as Transition Director for Governor Rauner’s incoming administration (First transition of Democrat Governor to Republican Governor in 30 years), and served as Rauner’s Chief of Staff from inauguration until June, 2016. He left that position to serve as Chief Strategic Advisor for GOP political operations through the 2016 elections where he presided over the increase of six GOP seats in the Illinois House in a campaign cycle President Trump lost Illinois by 17 points. Z was also the Chief Strategist for the statewide safe roads ballot initiative that won approval with 80% in 2016. In 2016 Z was featured in Crain’s Chicago “40 Under 40” series. Zolnierowicz managed
Congressman Rodney Davis’ first Congressional race in 2012 and served as deputy chief of staff for U.S. Senator Mark Kirk. He graduated from Downers Grove North High School and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Hope College.
Mike Z will join another Kirk alum, Eric Elk, who heads up XPS’ Fulcrum Illinois division.
Founded in 2004, XPS, Inc. is an independent for-profit subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association that has conducted campaign communications in eight states and specializes in measuring and shaping public opinions for both elections and issued-based efforts.
…Adding… Greg Hinz…
Zolnierowicz did not return messages seeking comment, but sources close to him say he was disturbed at a series of high-level Rauner staff changes this week, ending up this afternoon with the termination or resignation of most of the governor’s policy staff. Most of those positions reportedly will be filled with personnel from the Illinois Policy Institute, a liberatarian Chicago think tank which strongly opposes tax hikes and says the state’s budget woes can be solved via spending cuts and slashed benefits for state and local government workers.