Soon, Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., is expected to sign pro-life legislation, expanding on his unbroken history as governor of supporting pro-life policies. This is in contrast to his neighbor to the south, Gov. Bruce Rauner, R-Ill., who actually expanded taxpayer funding for abortion.
On Election Day 2014 I watched election results come in at the Hilton Chicago with the Chicago GOP and the Rauner campaign. As a campaign manager for a state house representative, I celebrated as the Republicans retained control of the U.S. House and won the Senate.
Late into the evening, I cheered as Bruce Rauner pulled off an upset and beat incumbent Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn to become the next governor of Illinois. I was not a supporter of Rauner during the primaries, supporting instead the more conservative Bill Brady. But I did vote for Rauner during the general election because I believed he would be better than Pat Quinn, who would be, I thought, worse on both abortion and economic issues.
As a socially conservative Republican, I had my doubts about some of his connections, especially to Planned Parenthood, but I was told he had no social agenda. In Illinois, I was willing to accept the status quo on abortion if it meant getting a governor who would be good on economic issues — especially one who often spoke glowingly of Scott Walker, who he said he wanted to model his governorship after.
And yes, Rauner took some good actions as governor, including some criminal justice reform measures, such as closing one youth prison and repurposing another one as a job training and re-entry center. But it was the signing of HB 40 that made me realize that Rauner actually did have a social agenda.
When Rauner signed HB 40 on September 28, 2017 he betrayed conservative voters, and the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Chicago by expanding taxpayer funding of abortion in the state. Let’s be clear: this is something he could have vetoed, and the veto likely would have been sustained.
This is in direct contrast to the governor I really wanted, and for whom I envied my friends to the north: Scott Walker. Walker has signed numerous pieces of pro-life legislation as governor, including an ultrasound bill and redirecting money away from Planned Parenthood. He is also expected to soon sign a prohibition on state employee insurance plans covering abortions, the opposite of what Rauner signed.
Throughout high school and college I watched as Walker cut taxes, cut regulations, reformed state government, and signed numerous pieces of conservative legislation as governor. When the 2016 presidential campaigns started, I had Walker as one of my favorite candidates and was even able to meet him at an event in Illinois.
Yes, one could argue that Walker had it easier, since he had a Republican majority, and fair enough. But Rauner went out of his way to expand abortion access. Having failed many times to pass substantial pension reform or stop a tax hike, Rauner somehow believed his best step would be to anger conservatives. I can live with a Republican governor who cannot overhaul a pension system facing a large Democrat majority in both houses. I can live with a Republican governor who cannot stop a tax hike because Democrats were adamant on raising taxes.
But I cannot understand a governor that lies to voters and to Catholic priests and goes out of his way to expand abortion funding.
While I no longer live in Illinois, I see the anger every day in the posts by my Illinois political friends who feel rightly betrayed by Rauner.
I voted for Bruce Rauner in 2014, thinking he would be, short of moving, the closest I would get to having Scott Walker as my governor. Instead, I just ended up with Bruce Rauner, Pat Quinn-lite.
Matt Lamb is communications director for Students for Life of America. The opinions expressed here are his own.
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