Recently in this space, we offered some unsolicited advice for the Democrats who are running for governor in next year’s election.
Today, we offer some for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who announced last week that he’s running for re-election.
Let’s preface it by acknowledging our advice probably will come across as critical. We prefer to think of it as tough love for a bright and talented fellow who needs to hear some solid if unpleasant truths.
In offering it, we recognize that the governor is not apt to take our advice. His first term suggests that he generally doesn’t listen to advice from anyone.
And that, Mr. Rauner, seems to be one of your fundamental problems — figuring out how to work with people and keeping in mind that a big part of that is listening to their problems and ideas, building consensus and trying to build win-win solutions rather than dictating winner-take-all confrontations where someone has to lose.
This is especially important when you face an opposition party that has overwhelming control of the Illinois legislature and the someone who is most apt to lose is you!
Somehow, you didn’t recognize that obvious truth during your first term, leaving even those of us who endorsed you, sympathize with you and pull for you perplexed by your apparent naiveté.
Where has this man-in-the-tower approach gotten you, Governor? A state in stagnation. A tax increase you didn’t want. A mass exodus of frustrated legislators.
And now you don’t even get along with many of your fellow Republicans. In fact, they’re so upset that one may end up running against you in the primary.
In a state like Illinois, virtually everything has to go right for a Republican to win statewide office. How that will happen in 2018 given a split in the GOP, lack of achievement in the Executive Mansion and an off-year election that traditionally favors the party that’s out of the White House, well, we shake our heads and wonder.
A big, big challenge lies ahead of you, Governor.
No doubt, you will campaign against House Speaker Michael Madigan and in favor of shaking up Springfield. These themes resonated in 2014. That they can resonate again in 2018 is frankly doubtful unless they are combined with the strong articulation of a concrete strategy for how you’re going to deliver on them.
It’s not enough, Governor, for you to tell us again that Springfield needs to be reformed. We’re with you on that and most of the state is, too.
But unless you can show us how you’re going to effect that change, it’s just empty talk. Illinois needs action, not recycled rhetoric. What will you do, Mr. Rauner, to produce it?