Statehouse Insider: Gov. Bruce Rauner has a revelation

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Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered a big speech last week that his campaign said was about “framing the gubernatorial election.”

“The speech will cover lessons learned in the first term, the contrast between Governor Rauner and his opponent and the governor’s vision for the future of Illinois,” a news release from the campaign said.

The speech was given Sept. 13, which is kind of far into the campaign season to start framing the campaign, but whatever. It was delivered before a bunch of loyal Republicans, including many lawmakers, so there was plenty of applause at the right moments. You’ve got to assume a bunch of the footage will show up in future campaign ads.

The first part of the speech had Rauner talking about lessons he’s learned in his first term, all delivered in an appropriately subdued tone. Wouldn’t look good to be gloating about the last three-plus years.

Rauner said he brought his business approach, which made him successful in the private sector, to state government.

“I sought to turn Illinois around by changing everything at once,” Rauner said. “I believed a dramatic, aggressive approach could shock state government into shape and bring Illinois back to life.”

Only shocking government doesn’t much work at any level. The whole process is set up to work against that sort of thing. And it’s especially true when control of said government is split between parties.

Which brings us to another lesson Rauner says he’s learned. He said that he’s learned in public service you have to be understanding, as in “understanding that there are different points of view, different priorities and approaches, even when we share the same goal of wanting to improve Illinois.”

No kidding. (Insert head slap emoji here).

***

So the contrite part was the first part of the speech. It was a campaign event, after all, so after the mea culpas the speech switched into campaign mode. That was largely a recital of why Rauner thinks Democrat J.B. Pritzker is unfit for office.

There was the obligatory mention of House Speaker Michael Madigan and how he’s blocked Rauner’s reform ideas. Rauner lambasted Pritzker’s graduated income tax idea. He brought up Pritzker’s link to ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich without mentioning the latter by name. And what campaign event would be complete without mentioning the toilets issue?

“His behavior shows him to be a person utterly lacking in the integrity and character we need in public office,” Rauner said.

Tell us what you really think.

***

Rauner’s speech kept Team Pritzker off the street for a while.

The Pritzker Rapid Response team (there really is one) rolled out a series of “reality checks” refuting statements made by the governor. No fewer than eight of them showed up in email Thursday for a speech that didn’t last 30 minutes.

***

A few weeks ago, Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, did a radio interview in which he said Republicans have to be more than anti-Madigan.

He said the GOP, legislative candidates and the governor had to explain how they will make the state better to win the support of voters.

“We don’t get to earn the right to govern simply by saying Madigan is the boogeyman,” he said.

Add Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Waukegan, to those who say the campaign has to be more than “No Madigan.” During the primary, Rauner accused Ives of being Madigan’s favorite lawmaker. On WLS radio last week, she said people heard Rauner’s ads, but did no further research so they bought into the idea. It worked, she said, so now Madigan is the central campaign theme.

But, Ives also said, “Republicans are going to have to make arguments, we’re going to have to make real arguments about what’s going on and connect dots for folks.”

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.

 

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September 15, 2018 at 07:19PM

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