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2014 Flashback: “I’d describe (Rauner) as a guy who is a morally right-to-life guy”

Thursday, Sep 28, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Wordslinger pointed this out in comments earlier today, so I figured I’d give you something to chew over this evening. It’s my first ever Crain’s Chicago Business column. It was entitled “What does the far right wing see in Rauner?” and it has held up fairly well since February of 2014, before that year’s primary election for governor

Here’s a question that’s been on several minds lately: Why is the state’s leading anti-abortion activist, Jack Roeser, backing Republican Bruce Rauner, who has said he favors a woman’s right to choose?

Mr. Roeser, a staunch conservative, has contributed millions of dollars to anti-abortion groups and candidates. His commitment to the abortion issue never has been questioned, and he’s at the top of anyone’s list of true believers.

But when you think of teachers-union haters, Mr. Roeser also is right at the top of the list. The founder of manufacturer Otto Engineering Inc. spent a fortune battling them. The unions are, the businessman says, “the most troublesome, rotten sons of bit***s in the whole state.”

And when you think about folks who despise Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Mr. Roeser leads the vanguard. He once called Mr. Madigan a “despot” and “the man most responsible for the desolation of our once-great state.”

Mr. Rauner is a well-known foe of the teachers unions. They’re his favorite punching bag, along with the “big-government union bosses” at AFSCME and SEIU who “have a stranglehold on the state” and “bribe” politicians.

Mr. Rauner also has not been shy about attacking Mr. Madigan. It’s basically his whole campaign theme. Late last year, Mr. Rauner said he would “stand up to Madigan, because I know where his special-interest groups are, and I can go after them.”

Abortion, unions, Mr. Madigan. Maybe, the thinking goes, Mr. Roeser figured he’d just go two out of three.


Some have darkly suggested that Mr. Rauner bought off Mr. Roeser with hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to Mr. Roeser’s charities and political funds.

“Nobody’s gonna buy me,” Mr. Roeser scoffed when we spoke by phone. He’s got a point. He’s a millionaire several times over thanks to Otto, a Carpentersville-based switch manufacturer.

It turns out, Mr. Roeser strongly believes that Mr. Rauner is against abortion “from the moment of conception.”

“I’d describe (Mr. Rauner) as a guy who is a morally right-to-life guy, but not on the hustings,” Mr. Roeser explained.

The Rauner campaign wouldn’t respond on the record, only pointing to Mr. Rauner’s previous public statements, in which he describes himself as someone who believes the decision to have an abortion ought to be left up to the woman, along with her family and minister if she so chooses.

And there’s something else that maybe Mr. Roeser doesn’t know. A state legislator told me not long ago that she’s been in small meetings with candidate Rauner where he’s said that he has regularly met with Speaker Madigan, breakfasting with the man he publicly boasts about crushing.


Mr. Madigan’s spokesman confirmed the two have met “several times.” The meetings were cordial, nonconfrontational and productive, he said. The spokesman said he didn’t think the two men have met since Mr. Rauner formally announced his campaign for governor last June. The Rauner campaign didn’t respond to questions about when Messrs. Madigan and Rauner last met or how often the two have broken bread. Mr. Rauner frequently talks about his desire to work with legislators once elected, a campaign spokesman points out. Maybe Mr. Roeser just misunderstood Mr. Rauner. Or maybe Mr. Roeser hears only what he wants to hear. The advantage for candidates who have never held office before, like Mr. Rauner, is that they have no voting records. It’s nearly impossible to pin them down on just about any issue if they don’t want to be. What’s not in dispute is that Mr. Rauner needs people like Mr. Roeser to win the Republican primary, but he needs to favor abortion rights to win the general election. He’ll also need to work with Mr. Madigan if he’s elected and hopes to get anything done. A lot of Republicans are overlooking quite a few differences with Mr. Rauner, whom they believe can win it all. “The way is clear to straighten out the Republican Party,” Mr. Roeser told me about Mr. Rauner. I wonder what they’ll think if Mr. Rauner is actually elected.


  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 5:50 pm:

    ===The Rauner campaign wouldn’t respond on the record, only pointing to Mr. Rauner’s previous public statements, in which he describes himself as someone who believes the decision to have an abortion ought to be left up to the woman, along with her family and minister if she so chooses.===

    That’s was the whole point of the exercise, outside HB40, but intertwined within who Bruce is.

    Rauner had a need and responsibility to sign, as far too much political capital (no social agenda) was placed out for public consumption.

    Conservatives and Pro-Life GA enablers like Rep. Breen forgot that, and also forgot the K-12 double cross… because the political capital said to sign.

    The RaunerS are exactly who they said they were. Some just forgot, while enabling.

  2. - blue dog dem - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 5:59 pm:

    The good news(sort of),we will go back to one party rule in 2018. We will keep getting tax increases and spending money like there is no tomorrow, but it at least will happen in a timely fashion and w/o wasting money on special sessions.

  3. - Fax Machine - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 6:03 pm:

    If Personal PAC doesn’t endorse Rauner - the most pro-choice Governor in Illinois history after today, then they have will no longer have any credibility.

  4. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 6:05 pm:

    ===If Personal PAC doesn’t endorse Rauner===

    They didn’t endorse him last time on parental consent. It’ll be the same next time. lol

  5. - Fax Machine - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 6:08 pm:

    I think the Board might overrule Terry after today.

  6. - TopHatMonocle - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 6:15 pm:

    I’d say he has Personal PAC’s endorsement in the bag for the Republican primary. The general… maybe not. Hah.

  7. - anon2 - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 6:30 pm:

    It sounds as if Jack wanted to believe Rauner was like him. No pro-life Republicans will make that mistake again.

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 6:38 pm:

    Do the PACs that have been heavily funded by Bruce Rauner become “pro-abortion backed” now, or better yet “heavily funded by abortion leaders from Chicago”?

    If Breen’s that upset, he ought to demand the House Republicans give back all of the funds they have taken from Rauner over the past three years.

    I am guessing that won’t happen. And I am guessing all of this controversy goes away rather quickly, unless they quickly find a candidate.

    Ericka Harold and Dan Proft would be a great team. I don’t think anyone else could beat him.

  9. - Morty - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 6:54 pm:

    In the end, I believe Jack wanted to be seen as a kingmaker rather than a gadfly

  10. - Sonny - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 7:08 pm:

    This must have been the breakfast where Madigan told him his darkest motivations and he threw up his grits, or crumpets or corned beef hash (select one depending on audience).

  11. - anon2 - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 7:34 pm:

    === Ericka Harold and Dan Proft would be a great team. ===

    Beauty and the Beast.

  12. - Emil - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 8:01 pm:

    I have seen Terry Cosgrove’s method and tactics for 4 decades. There is no way Personal PAC endorses Rauner in the general election. This despite Diana Rauner pumping thousands of dollars into Personal PAC before Bruce was elected.

  13. - JoanP - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 8:35 pm:

    “Mr. Rauner frequently talks about his desire to work with legislators once elected”

    Har de har har . . .

    @ Fax Machine -

    I don’t see why Personal PAC would endorse him. I don’t see why ANYONE would endorse him. Why would anyone trust Rauner about anything? Whatever action he took on this bill, he’d have lied to someone. He talks out of both sides of his mouth. He may have been pro-choice on this bill, but next month, next year, who knows what he’d do?

  14. - Arsenal - Thursday, Sep 28, 17 @ 9:08 pm:

    ==If Personal PAC doesn’t endorse Rauner==

    The other guy’s gonna have a pro-choice running mate and a pro-choice AG nominee on his ticket, so Personal PAC is gonna have a pretty easy time explaining their inevitable Democratic endorsement.

  15. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Sep 29, 17 @ 7:22 am:

    Why can’t PersonalPAC just make no endorsement in the general?

  16. - Annonin' - Friday, Sep 29, 17 @ 8:21 am:

    Erica and Profit…..leaving single mom out in the cold?

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