The Illinois Race for Governor: Things Will Get Worse No Matter Who Wins

In this Jan. 16, 2014 photo, businessman Bruce Rauner, a Republican candidate for Illinois governor in 2014, speaks during a candidate business forum in Mount Prospect, Ill. After months of owning the airwaves and raising millions more than his three opponents in the Republican primary for governor, Rauner, a political newcomer, could be about to face his toughest rival yet: Illinois’ well-funded and politically powerful labor unions. Officials from several unions said they are close to launching coordinated attacks against the wealthy businessman, who has made standing up to “union bosses” a primary theme of his campaign and his prolific advertising. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Last time I touched on the simple fact that a healthy and growing Republican Party in Illinois is required if we’re going to see reform. GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner will do damage to that party, whereas Democratic candidate Pat Quinn will not.

Before getting to the topic of lieutenant governor candidates, let me state another simple fact that Republican voters are ignoring: Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly and that’s not going to change in 2014. Thus, here is what happens if Rauner wins: The G.A. passes a bill, the governor vetoes it, and the G.A. overrides the veto. This will happen often.

Folks, it’s not complicated. And if you think the public will support Rauner’s vetoes so the legislature will have to changes its behavior, you’re expecting the arrival of something we haven’t seen in Illinois in decades: Republicans rallying public opinion.

Bruce Rauner might be the guy you’ve been waiting for but state House Speaker Mike Madigan and state Senate President John Cullerton couldn’t care less.

Okay, here are a few words on Bruce Rauner’s choice for his running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti. Sanguinetti is a 43-year-old mother of three, adjunct professor of law, and she was elected to a suburban city council in 2011. As to her experience and accomplishments that serve as qualifications to take over as governor should something happen to a governor Rauner, I know of none.

By contrast, here’s a few of the jobs held by Pat Quinn’s running mate Paul Vallas:

  • Superintendent of the Recovery School District of Louisiana
  • CEO of School District of Philadelphia
  • CEO of the Chicago Public Schools
  • Executive director of the nonpartisan Illinois Economic and Fiscal Commission
  • Director of the Chicago Department of Revenue
  • Director of the Chicago Office of Budget and Management

Oh, and by the way, Vallas was recruited by Republicans to run for governor on their ticket in 2010, and Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal has high praise for Vallas’ work with the Louisiana schools.

Bruce Rauner had plenty of time to find someone in Illinois (a state of twelve million people) whose résumé would impress voters. Instead, he chose Evelyn Sanguinetti. Say what you will about Pat Quinn, unlike Rauner, he took seriously the job of picking a running mate.

Republicans in Illinois are desperate for a win, and most couldn’t care less about Evelyn Sanguinetti. Fine, there’s nothing more to say about her so I’m happy to get back to other facts too few Illinois Republicans want to face.

Here’s something many Illinois Republicans and conservatives need to wake up to: Winning the governor’s mansion will not launch us on the road to recovery (see discussion of the veto process above). Lazy people on the political right greatly outnumber those willing to roll up their sleeves. Most don’t want to have to do the work that’s necessary to win the information war, recruit good people to run for office, or volunteer in the trenches to get the political work done. Instead, they want a sugar daddy with a big wallet to save them from all that.

Say what you will about liberals and Democrats in Illinois — at least they’re willing to engage at all levels. They dominate the press, the schools, and grassroots politics. On the other side of the political divide, people prefer to cling to a fantasy that someone else will do the work. For example, Bruce Rauner will single-handedly knock legislators’ heads in Springfield and died-in-the-wool lefties will find fiscal religion. Wanna bet?

While tea party groups send endless emails to each other and attend events with fellow believers, liberal interest groups work the phones, walk the precincts, and dominate the airwaves selling the idea that their failed ideology can still be made to work.

In the meantime, when was the last time you heard a substantive policy proposal from your Republican state legislators promoted in any meaningful fashion?

If today the earth swallowed up every elected Democrat in the state, how exactly, would elected Illinois Republicans govern? What, specifically, would change? You don’t know? Don’t worry, they don’t know either so you’re not alone.

Next time let’s look at Rauner’s budget and fiscal reform ideas. We’ll be able to get that accomplished rather quickly since few details have been presented, and those that have don’t add up.

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