Hope for Illinois?

My mother, who still lives in Rockford, Illinois, sent me a link today that was pretty surprising. It says that the Republican candidate for governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, has an actual shot at winning, and it appears that he isn’t insane. I am going to do a mini-fisking of the article and ask some questions along the way that I hope that some of our Chicago/Illinois based readers can answer.

Why are the stakes so huge? Because Illinois is arguably the worst-run state in America.

I don’t think there is really any question that Illinois is THE worst-run state in America, hands down.

Illinois could become a laboratory experiment about whether conservative ideas can work in a state that has been ruled by teachers’ unions and a self-serving political machine in Springfield and Chicago.

How could this experiment possibly happen with a solid majority in the Illinois House and Senate? I guess Rauner could slag them unmercifully in the press when they don’t change anything, but I am not sure how that will work.

I caught up with Mr. Rauner in Chicago last week. He’s ruffling liberal feathers by going into black inner-city schools and Hispanic neighborhoods and talking about school choice, economic opportunity, family stability, and jobs. “I’m getting standing ovations when I go to black churches and talk about school choice,” he says. “Parents understand it is their kids that are victimized by lousy public schools in Chicago.”

This seems like very good politics to me. The Chicago Public School System is a disgrace.

He’s running as a non-politician who has the business experience to turn around the state’s finances. He won his five-person primary by telling voters, “I’m the only one up here who isn’t a professional politician. These are the people who created the problems in Springfield.” In this era of rage against the political class, the message (and the millions of dollars he poured into his campaign) carried the day.

Sounds like he has money and is sincere. This may be an appealing choice to the people of Illinois.

He’s promised to take a jackhammer to the bloated state budget. The Left is already rolling off the shelf the anti–Mitt Romney campaign — i.e., rich people like Rauner don’t care about people like you.

“The Left” won’t vote for him anyways. But again, I don’t see how effective the “jackhammer” will be without help from the House and Senate.

Some skeptics say that even if Mr. Rauner wins, he won’t be able to overturn the corrupt machine in Springfield. Don’t be sure about that. If Rauner makes it to the governor’s mansion, he will have a gigantic mandate from voters to turn Springfield upside down and get the finances in order. The big losers will be the teachers’ unions, whose clout will be greatly diminished — it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people.

I hope he wins, and I hope this last paragraph is right. Maybe, perhaps, finally, the people of Illinois have had enough of the nonsense. At least this might be a start.

16 thoughts on “Hope for Illinois?”

  1. Comments to that National Review article suggest that Rauner is a stalking horse for the Democrats. I hope that is not true but Illinois is corrupt enough to make any question reasonable. What happened to Peter Fitzgerald ? That’s enough to make me worry.

    Throughout his tenure in the Senate, Fitzgerald battled with the state Republican Party leadership. He insisted on the appointment of an out-of-state US attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald (unrelated[2]), to investigate corruption in the Illinois state government. Several indictments resulted, including that of former Republican Governor George Ryan, who was later convicted of several criminal abuses of authority, and Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

    Fitzgerald declined to run for reelection largely because many Republican insiders who had failed to support him in his first run in 1998 had made it clear he would not have their support again.

    Has Obama taught the Illinois GOP the price of such behavior ? I hope so.

  2. What is the real shame Mike, is that both states have tremendous natural resources that they could draw on to be very productive if the government would just get it together, just a little.

  3. Much would depend on how much power an Illinois governor has — and how skilled Rauner is as a politician. (I don’t know about either, even though I lived in Illinois for some years, decades ago.)

    For instance, if the Illinois governor has a line-item veto, he would have considerable control over the budget, all by himself.

    For what it is worth, I think it likely that Rauner will defeat Pat Quinn, who barely won last time, against a relatively weak Republican, Bill Brady (47-46, 1,745,219-1,713,385). Organization may have made the difference; Brady was leading in most polls.

    Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that the Republicans will defeat the state attorney general, Lisa Madigan — who has shown almost no interest in investigating crimes by Democratic officials. (Her father is speaker of the Illinois house.)

  4. Republicans have been hip-deep in corruption in Illinois including the recent GOP Speaker, Dennie Hastert. His kids have done almost as well as Harry Reid’s kids from Dad’s maneuvers. I am not optimistic about Illinois but then, I am not optimistic about California, or much else to be honest.

  5. Rauner isn’t a typically Illinois “machine” Republican. Completely true that the “machine” Republicans are often just as bad for the state as the dems… such as Ryan (just out of jail).

    I think that the state is so badly run that he can make a difference just by halting some practices used to paper over our gigantic problems and forcing a crisis. The guy is already wealthy and has zero to lose. What is happening is that our issues are just compounding all the time (getting worse) so provoking a calamity will be a good thing.

    The legislature won’t have the organization or clout to override him… and of course he won’t get anything done either… so our debt issues (we are about the worst in terms of debt ratings in the union) will likely get to a place where we are having trouble borrowing. And the SECOND we can’t borrow MORE money, we are stuck.

    I am optimistic just because we have to try something new. We don’t have any alternatives. You can’t collaborate with most of the democrats that are just machine politicians.

    The strange thing is that most Illinois people are “middle of the road” and pretty decent. Some how the politicians have taken over and gerrymandered the state and made themselves and their union allies immortal. The citizens surely have some blood on their hands too by not standing up against it but it is so slow and so inevitable (corruption, waste, unions, inefficiency) that it must seem like someone attempting to fight the mob in Sicily, an impossible task.

    SO – I am very optimistic about Rauner. He doesn’t have to accomplish anything, he just needs to stop anything from getting accomplished, which will provoke a crisis, which is likely what will cause an opportunity to fix everything.

  6. “The strange thing is that most Illinois people are “middle of the road” and pretty decent.”

    Outside Chicago, which runs the state. Downstate used to be Republican and it was a contest between Chicago and downstate each election to see if the crooks ran things. Now, downstate seems to be almost as corrupt. I haven’t lived in the state since 1956 but still have family there. I’m not up-to-date on the corruption follies.

    Chicago is on a path that leads to Detroit. The Detroit suburbs are nice and the black middle class lives there along with the whites. A few years ago, I was taking a photo of my family home in South Shore. The black guy who owns it now came out to ask me who I was. He wound taking me on a tour and asked me if I would send him copies of photos of the house when my family lived there. It was sad. He is a nice guy who was trying to live a middle class life in the most violent part of the city. I wonder if he still lives there.

  7. Chicago is a bit different now. There has been a huge influx of people living downtown / River North / West Loop / South Loop that have brought in new high rises and wealth. Don’t know what their politics are but certainly not to the right on social issues and not to the left on economic issues. You can’t be too far left when the rent is $4000 / month or higher unless you are a “trust fund” kid but then why the heck would you live in Chicago anyways (head to Miami).

    In the South side of the city it is just going to complete ruin. Everything is in foreclosure. There has been zero private sector investment since the riots of 1968. With all this, it is a matter of time before the South and parts of the west side just return to dust.

    Agreed that it is very sad for those honest and decent people trying to make a living and raise a family.

  8. “In the South side of the city it is just going to complete ruin.”

    It is painful to consider. South Shore was the prettiest part of the city as far as I am concerned. Jackson Park and the harbor, South Shore Country Club, Jackson Park Golf Course. The summer was always cooler and winter warmer. We used to ride our bikes to the Museum of Science and Industry. Rainbow Beach was nearby and there were handball courts we all used in summer. In winter we played hockey on flooded fields.

    All gone.

  9. Rauner is not an establishment Republican. I have it on reliable hearsay from people who know him that he is sincere. I was one of a small number of Caucasians in the room when I saw him speak about school choice to the Black Republicans on the south side. If he was a phony he would not have been there. I know an activist who told Bruce “all we want is for you to be what you claim to be.” He said, y
    That’s what I am. I’ve see. Nothing to make me doubt. Whether can be effective is a separate question. The Ds are clearly afraid of him. This will be an ugly election.

  10. I saw Rauner speak a couple weeks ago. He told the same story about, while he’s contesting every county, he’s focusing on Cook by appealing to ethnic groups. Without Cook he just can’t win, and he knows it.

    It’s apparently working because he’s the odds on favorite to win.

    Although last election Brady consistently lead in the polls for most of the election season and still lost. Rauner hinted at that too. I came out of it with the impression that he’s much better organized than previous GOP candidates.

    I would just be prepared because any Republican that is going to run well in Cook County is going to be making a lot of compromises in Springfield.
    I personally am going to defer any concerns until later. Anything is better than the disaster we have now.

  11. The forces of entropy have gained so much power in Illinois, that I’m afraid it is a lost cause. I keep seeing professionals moving to one of the most corrupt counties in Indiana and sighing with relief that at least the local governments here have little power. (What with having ruined their own cities despite massive Federal and State bailouts). Indiana is an island of relative freedom compared to surrounding States. That is a depressing thought.

  12. He needs to watch his back, never be alone with ANYONE, and employ a food taster.

    Even then – if I were an insurance company, I wouldn’t sign him up for a policy.

  13. Please, Lord. Please let Rauner win. Allow him to deliver on his promise so maybe the flow of Illinois refugees will stay on their side of the Indiana line and keep their loopy union democrat voting habits out of our free and prosperous right to work state. Amen.

Comments are closed.