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Can Rauner recover from the worst summer ever?

Monday, Sep 11, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Will voters remember the many flubs of the summer of 2017? Or will they focus on the fact that [Gov. Bruce Rauner] has railed against a popular state target, Mike Madigan, the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history?

“It’s unlikely that we’ve seen the end of the turmoil. It does appear now that the daily bloodletting has subsided, and I think he was able to do that by firing the majority of the [Illinois Policy Institute] staff and moving their political people out,” said a source with close knowledge of the administration. […]

“The real question is what is the public not seeing behind the scenes? How much turmoil still exists there?” the source said, adding that internal tension can become a big factor when the governor has to deal with important issues, like whether he’ll sign HB40, a measure removing a “trigger provision” that would make abortions illegal in Illinois should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

While sources say some of the new staffers urged the governor to veto the Illinois Trust Act, the governor didn’t abide. “What that means is that he understands that the advice and counsel and strategy that the team he fired had offered always served him best, and he has retreated to the very same advice and counsel of those that he fired,” the source said. […]

“He now has a period of stability ahead of him. He can use it to propose cuts that are much easier to justify in the next budget. He’s in a position to propose tax relief,” the source said. “That is achievable. And he can still rail against an unpopular speaker and blame Madigan and the legislators for overriding his veto and for continuing to perpetuate the problem.”

Your thoughts?


  1. - Anon - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 9:47 am:

    No… I hope.

  2. - Mr. K. - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    My sense is that the biggest issue for Rauner — and probably every statewide candidate this season — is to define exactly where they stand on specific issues.

    Rauner won’t — or can’t — do this. He’s always — always — ambiguous. He won’t take a stand — for or against — about anything except collective bargaining. He’s clear about that. He’s defined his stance on that.

    But … that’s about it. Friends and I had dinner the other day, and we ended up talking politics — which led to Rauner — and led to all of us (some of whom voted for him, most of whom didn’t) agreeing unanimously on the idea of “we have no idea what Rauner is — GOP, Dem, moderate, conservative, etc.”

    He makes a lot of stuff up — and says what needs to be said in front of any given audience — but we weren’t sure what he actually believed. We know what he says. But we weren’t sure if that’s actually what he believes.

    Very weird. But people apparently love the paradox of ambiguity in the case of Rauner.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    It’s absolutely critical… A fatal mistake actually…

    If Dems and then the Dem Nominee come March lets Rauner enjoy anything that has a single nickel from the budget Rauner vetoed.

    The rest? The rest is hammering and shaking these mistakes, “Skyhook, in reverse fashion”, but the fatal mistake, the mistake that will let Rauner off the mat is allowing Rauner to take any credit for any single budgetary item that Rauner vetoed.

    Seniors, Higher Education, social services, state parks, state police, any and every construction project, upgrade and repairs…

    … if Dems let Rauner “claim” his veto as a victory, while Dems override it, the malpractice on the Dems side will be the refusal to hold Rauner accountable for the total implications of those vetoes.

    That’s the measuring where Rauner will survive or not.

    Do the Dems know that, that I don’t know.

  4. - One hand //ing - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 9:56 am:

    Rauner’ reelction strategy was based on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would be president. Ain’t nobody gonna care who’s speaker of the Illinois House when Donald Trump is occupying the White House.

  5. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    He’s toast.

  6. - Arsenal - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    Of course he *can*. He’ll have every resource he needs to turn it around, and while time is an issue, there’s still enough time.

    It’s a distinct issue from if he *will*, though. His issues started long before this summer. His approval rating has been dropping like a stone basically since Day 1, and Kristina Rasmussen wasn’t his CoS when he decided to make his first year about a failed attempt to turn IL into a RTWFL state. IPI wasn’t running his Comms shop when he cut autism funding, or when he vetoed the CPS money because, in his own words, he lost his temper. It’s clear that his self-destructive impulses to prove himself the Alpha Dog happen regardless of staff. It’ll be up to him, himself, to rein ‘em in.

  7. - Dreamin - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    === I think he was able to do that by firing the majority of the [Illinois Policy Institute] staff and moving their political people out===

    Uh, a majority? This is just … false. Not to mention the folks from IPI who were in state gov’t before the more recent staff changes.

  8. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:03 am:

    He is his own worst enemy. If he can try and remain gaffe free he can turn it around depending on the Cook County turn out. All people hear is 32% increase and Madigan Madigan Madigan. Dumb but it works

  9. - RNUG - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:05 am:

    I think Rauner is too injured to recover but you never count out the kind of money he can spend.

    In an ideal world, Rauner should decide to push for an income tax increase dedicated to school funding and tied to a reduction of local school property taxes. And then sell the public that it is the right thing to do.

    That would fit his stated goals of fixing property taxes and increasing school funding … but, and it is a BIG but, achieving those goals requires again hiking the income tax, something Rauner is apparently opposed to … and it doesn’t help to destroy the teacher’s unions.

    I don’t expect it to happen under Rauner … but that’s what I think he should do.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:07 am:

    Every day IPI alums litter state government and are sitting in Rauner’s Administration should be days Dems and Republicans should realize those IPI alums aren’t there for a better Illinois, they are there to help Bruce and Diana Rauner destroy Illinois, and hopefully make Diana Rauner’s phony “brand” shine… and the cocktail parties be a tad less pointed for Bruce and Diana Rauner.

    The hiring of the IPI alums, and the littering of IPI alums before the purge should have been enough now to sink a sitting governor.

    The RaunerS only want two three things;

    Destroy Illinois through the IPI prism

    Blame others as they gleefully do that

    Have IPI types make the destruction palatable for Diana’s brand.

    Rauner can survive all this with his money and Diana’s phony brand if Dems let the RaunerS and the IPI messaging win.

    That Bruce and Diana Rauner were obsessed with IPI messaging is troubling in of itself. The recovery of these past weeks from the IPI messaging has the possibility of Illinois finally succumbing to the IPI/RaunerS destruction.

    And… it’s possible.

  11. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:21 am:

    “Can Rauner recover from the worst summer ever?”

    Many staffers purged from Rauner’s team have cultivated relationships with members of the press. The first fruits of those relationships were the bounty of embarrassing leaks about Rauner’s administration.

    And in the near term, those near-daily leaks should start drying up.

    But there will be a second, longer harvest.

    Those purged staffers have also helped journalists craft very precise and specific requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The unavoidable vagueness that can be used to dodge a troublesome FOIA request? Well, you can avoid all that when you’re guided from the inside. “Ask X about Y on date Z.” Bingo.

    FOIAs are no longer a matter of blindly trolling for fish in deep water. They’re now carefully targeted harpoons.

    And that’s setting aside any legal consequences that might arise from Greg Hinz’s allegation of a fundraising for government hiring quid pro no-no.

    Can Rauner recover from the worst summer ever?

    Too soon to tell — the worst of this summer may still be ahead of him.

    – MrJM

  12. - old time golfer - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:26 am:

    The fact that nobody in the Republican party has yet to announce that they are running state wide except ( Attorney General ) tells me he is in big trouble. His own party sees it as a no win possibility…

  13. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:29 am:

    Well, Rod got reelected….

  14. - A guy - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:29 am:

    It’s petition time, so it’s time to be out there with the voters. It never ceases to amaze me how little attention so many people give to the grander parts of government. Hyper local real estate tax issues are coming up, along with national concern i.e. Storms, FEMA, Korea, DACA.
    Almost nothing…and I mean nothing about state government. Given the tension and high temp under the dome, you’d think there would be some passionate chatter. There just wasn’t. I’ll keep listening, but I honestly believe expectations are so low and the mess is just so convoluted, people just choose not to think about it. It’s sad they know or informed so little about it. It’s not hard to get this news.

    So, can he recover? The answer is yes. If only for the reason he doesn’t need to recover with so many people. It’s a crazy world.

  15. - Norseman - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    I wish Rauner will not recover and his disastrous reign makes it imperative for Illinois to be rid of him. Since he will use his large campaign fund to his best advantage, I can’t put the nails in his reelection coffin.

  16. - Aldyth - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    He’s got a record to run on. A record that is long on failure. I would hope that after four years of continual failure and millions being spent on pointing them out, a majority would be paying attention.

  17. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    He can, but not with the mad management “skills” or agenda of the IPI/Proft types. He has to get rid of all of them and bring in some grown ups.

    Rauner betrayed a surprising lack of judgment and ignorance of the state by selecting that crew for a general election push. Running to the far right with a bunch of dorm-room zealots at the controls simply makes no sense.

    I’ll echo, too, what MrJM said about a second harvest. For starters, I think we’ll hear more on that Hinz column on $30M in campaign contributions for hiring IPI deep-thinkers for state jobs and letting Proft run legislative races.

    Obviously, that blew up over their massive incompetence, but there could be more story to tell.

  18. - Barrington - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    MrrJM, insightful comment. I think the staff purging will become Rauner’s Russia. Most people in business have no experience with FOI.

  19. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 11:02 am:

    A guy: people are more tired than angry about everything that is wrong with politics today - billionaires buying office, corruption, incompetence, and on and on… its a matter of sapped energy to change things after trying hard to do so for years. So, we the people, are more apathetic than inspired with righteous anger. Apathy is on us.

  20. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    The comment by - @MisterJayEm - is really breaking down where Rauner’s “real” fears may be, given the way the “Superstars” would know where everything fits, and that Bruce and Diana Rauner felt the need to summarily dismiss their staunchest supporters and unwavering crew that supported Bruce and saved Bruce from himself.

    Well said, - @MisterJayEm -, that’s really drilling down to an answer.

  21. - Arsenal - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 11:38 am:

    ==Almost nothing…and I mean nothing about state government.==

    Not at all my experience canvassing. I’ve been asking people, “What issue, at any level, are you most concerned with?” and the answer I’ve gotten the most (Besides a Jon-Lovett-esque “There’s…just so much going on!”) is some variation on the Madigan-Rauner War.

  22. - SOIL M - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 12:10 pm:

    Of course he Can recover, but dont know if he and his crew have the ability to pull it off. For some odd reason, there are still people who believe what he says.
    His best chance of recovering is when the Democrat primary gets to fighting dirty. The Democratic Party is not in good shape itself and a few tugs on strings that are unravelling can make it fall apart. Couple that with infighting that comes with a mud slinging fest of a primary and his message of “I’m not them” might get him thru.
    Down-State Democrats will be hurt with more coming out about the Laborers Union and the corruption and ties they have to the democratic party. That wont get him thru Cook County, but might get him thru in the south and get enough up north to decide to stay home. He will have ammo for his “business as usual” ads and has a chance to convince enough people to believe he can still fix things.

  23. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 12:23 pm:

    Wow, that is a lot of conjecture for an unnamed Source.

    Pure fantasy in my view, Rich.

    The governor just announced $6 billion in borrowing. A tax cut does not really mesh with that. Moreover, the bipartisan budget that Rauner vetoed was less than his introduced budget. And pushed to name areas he could cut, his agency directors came up empty.

    Can Rauner be re-elected? Sure, a guy with $100 million to spend is sometimes down but never out. But he would have to figure out a way to work with Democrats by offering them something so good they couldn’t pass it up, like a $60B capital bill. And that seems unlikely.

  24. - Ginhouse Tommy - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 12:28 pm:

    Too many mistakes to recover from and plenty of ammo for campaign ads by his opponents. To have any chance he has to pass a budget by next May and act like a Governor like he is trying to do now. It’s a lot to overcome and in this campaign his opponents aren’t clueless.

  25. - Ghost - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    Voters have short memories. it depends on whethere there is a steady stream ofnfuture missteps so that everything stay linked together and continous.

  26. - Ginhouse Tommy - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 1:04 pm:

    Another problem that Rauner has is that this year he made a lot of enemies, from his former staff to ILGOP members and caused some to not run for office again and the total keeps rising. The people that he stiffed probably have deep connections and long memories and that ain’t good for Bruce. He made big mistakes and caused extreme bitterness especially among the ILGOP and it may takes years to repair that damage. If he loses the election which is likely he may find that he and IPI are shut out the party dealings. You reap what you sow.

  27. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    Of course the Governor can win reelection

    I don’t see the same fate for numerous Tax and Spend Cook County Democrats

    The electorate is angry about the tax increases and sees no end in sight because there are zero reforms

    Wait til the ads start running

  28. - Ron - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    Look at the fools running against him. He’ll be fine.

  29. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    ===The electorate is angry about the tax increases and sees no end in sight because there are zero reforms===

    “What will be different in a Rauner second term?”


  30. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    Less Democrats as well as fewer Republicans who voted to raise taxes and reform nothing in the GA

  31. - walker - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 3:21 pm:

    Never count out a candidate who can outspend you, and vetoed a tax increase.

    What Word said — Rauner can win with experienced political hands, but not with dilettantes and ideologues.

  32. - blue dog dem - Monday, Sep 11, 17 @ 8:59 pm:

    To answer the post. No. But…..the dud duo is going to have to step it up a notch and get off the ‘who is the most progressive candidate’ kick.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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