Weather Updates

Republican Rauner speaks Madigan’s language

Bruce Rauner is running for Republican gubernatorial nominatiIllinois.  |  AP  file photo

Bruce Rauner is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Illinois. | AP file photo

storyidforme: 58258448
tmspicid: 19124424
fileheaderid: 8654989

Updated: December 25, 2013 6:36AM

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has made no bones about his eagerness to take on House Speaker Michael if he’s elected.

Rauner constantly claims he is the best man for the job of cutting the entrenched, powerful Democrat down to size.

The other three Republican candidates also claim that they are the best people to deal with Madigan. But Rauner has been more forceful than all of them put together, going so far as to say he will “stand up to Madigan, because I know where his special-interest groups are, and I can go after them.”

Much of this is just red meat for the GOP masses, who despise Madigan. Heck, some of the same folks who are backing Rauner now have also backed Madigan or worked with him.

Ken Griffin, the richest man in the state, gave half a million dollars to Stand for Children’s Illinois political action committee back in 2010. So did a lot of other Rauner pals. Rauner himself takes credit for bringing the school-reform group into this state. And as part of Rauner’s own legislative strategy, the group made huge contributions to several of Speaker Madigan’s candidates. They kicked in $50,000 to Madigan last year for good measure.

So if Rauner “goes after” Madigan’s special-interest groups, at least some of them will be his own friends.

Rauner is no fan of teachers’ unions, and those unions, in turn, really don’t care for Speaker Madigan, either. Indeed, Madigan eagerly took all that cash from Stand for Children in 2010 because he was warring with the teachers unions over education reform.

Rauner also detests AFSCME, the union that represents state workers. Madigan is no fan of that union, either, which has boycotted contributions to his campaign committees. Mention the name of the union’s executive director Henry Bayer to Madigan and he rolls his eyes. Last year when AFSCME was backing a candidate for the Illinois House who also was a member of the union, Madigan barely lifted a finger to help the guy.

And of course, the public employee unions are all up in arms over the way Madigan has pushed to cut pension benefits.

Would Madigan like to see AFSCME’s wings clipped? Probably so. Same goes for the teachers unions.

Both men are pro-choice. Madigan pushed for gay marriage, Rauner says he doesn’t oppose it. Both men spend a lot of time hanging out with rich people, corporate CEOs, etc. They speak much the same language.

They have their differences, of course, but it’s mainly a matter of degree. Rauner is pushing hard for term limits, but his proposed constitutional amendment won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2023. By then, Madigan will be almost 81 years old.

Frankly, I think both men could work together pretty well if Rauner is elected. They both have a keen understanding of how money and politics intertwine, for example. Rauner was one of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s largest contributors. He made Mayor Rahm Emanuel a millionaire by hooking him up with a sweet corporate deal. He understands, like Madigan, that the best way to a politician’s heart is through his wallet. They speak the same language.

But maybe Rauner won’t want to work together. It’s very possible that he could take the Rod Blagojevich route, declare war on Madigan, shut down government and generally make a disaster of things. A little “creative destruction” is necessary every now and then, though Blagojevich always took things way too far.

If that turns out to be Rauner’s chosen path, well, Madigan has plenty of experience dealing with such matters.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and


© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.