Updated: June 14, 2013 2:23AM
Several months ago, I offered Bill Daley some unsolicited advice.
Before you decide whether to run for governor, I suggested to Daley during a phone call, you should take some time off and drive around Illinois.
Cairo, in deep Southern Illinois, is 370 miles from Chicago. It’s a whole other world down there.
Maybe take a day and head out to Quincy, which is about as far west as you can go in Illinois and where the economy usually thrives even during recessions. Quincy is almost 100 miles closer to Kansas City than it is to Chicago.
Tuscola is a 150-mile straight shot down Interstate 57, where Amish restaurants and shops abound. Peoria is home to thousands of Lebanese-Americans whose ancestors arrived 100 years ago.
This is a great big beautiful and weirdly diverse state, I told Daley. You gotta go see it and at least try to get your mind around it before you decide you really want to govern it.
Daley wasn’t interested. The votes needed to win the Democratic primary are in Cook County, and that was where he was staying.
Not long after I talked to Daley, another wealthy Chicagoan began traveling the state on a “listening tour.” Republican Bruce Rauner probably talked a lot more than he listened, but he spent over two months on the road and visited 50 Illinois towns and cities.
I give Rauner a lot of credit for his tour. Yeah, it was something of a stunt, but at least he tried to see a good chunk of Illinois.
Rauner and Daley both jumped into the governor’s race this week. They travel in many of the same circles, so their lists of fantastically monied campaign donors probably overlap more than not. Rauner criticized Daley this week for being part of “the same old political dynasties,” but Rauner gave $200,000 to the campaign fund of Daley’s brother Rich.
Both men have long enjoyed lives of privilege. Rauner made himself super rich with an investment company and helped make Rahm Emanuel a member of the “one percent” with some sweet deals. He has a house in Winnetka, a nice spread in Montana and some expensive Chicago condos. He used one of those condos to establish city residency for himself (but not his spouse) and then allegedly took advantage of his political connections to get his kid into the ultra-exclusive Walter Payton College Prep.
But that bit of alleged graft would be small potatoes for a guy like Daley, the son of a mayor and brother of another, who has had careers in big-time banking, AT&T and the White House under two presidents.
Their messages are remarkably similar. Despite a lack of hands-on experience dealing with state government, they’re both completely confident that their record of lifetime success, superior abilities and exceptional intellects will allow them to forcibly drag Illinois kicking and screaming toward prosperity.
They are, in sum, the embodiment of entitled, wealthy white male rage. Daley freely admits that his anger pushed him into the campaign against Gov. Pat Quinn. It’s a decision he may live to regret.
Rauner obviously has a better chance of winning with an angry rich white guy message in a Republican primary than Daley does in a Democratic contest, even against the unpopular Quinn. And thanks to his “listening tour,” at least Rauner now knows what downtown Effingham looks like. Daley might not be able to find it on a map.