Bruce Rauner is the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics (Part 1)

Bruce Rauner is the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics (Part 1)

Chicago : IL : USA | Dec 21, 2013 at 10:25 AM PST
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Bruce Rauner: Toast ad

The Mitt Romney of Illinois politics is Bruce Rauner, who would like to be the next governor of Illinois in the worst way. It appears that is just how he is attempting to become the next governor.

In the worst way: Buying his way into the governor's office.

Like Romney, Rauner has used money to buy influence and power. Although Rauner is a political novice, he has spent the better part of three decades hob knobbing with political people. Rauner has nurtured many friendships with politicians.

This is a three part series about the candidacy of Bruce Rauner titled "Bruce Rauner is the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics." Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

Rauner has donated to them and found them lucrative jobs, and in many cases Rauner collected in-kind payment for those donations.

Rauner founded GTCR in 1980 (the "R" is for Rauner), which is a private equity firm. Romney founded Bain Capital in 1984 and both are private equity firms that invest in companies to turn them around.

Rauner's company also managed various pension funds for three decades, including funds in Illinois. GTCR has reaped millions from the management of those funds. Inexplicably, Rauner opposed the recently passed and signed by the governor in Illinois pension reform bill.

Rauner favors a 401k plan widely used in private industry for state workers going forward. The new pension law does allow for a 401k plan, but it is optional for future state workers.

One of the difficult campaign issues for Romney in the 2012 campaign, and what scored points in favor of Obama was the accusation that Romney was a "job destroyer" and not a "job creator."

Resonating in Illinois, a case in point was a company that Bain Capital took control. The company, Sensata Technologies, was purchased by Bain in 2006 and the Illinois plant in Freeport, was promptly closed and Bain let go of 165 workers. The 165 Illinois jobs were shipped to China.

Romney's Bain Capital firm reaped millions from the transaction, seemingly not caring about the human cost.

Ironically, Governor Pat Quinn came to the defense of the workers in Freeport at that time.

The question for Rauner: Is there a Freeport lurking in Rauner's background? The chances are very good there are. There is little doubt that Quinn's opposition research is already on it.

Similar to Rauner, Romney left the firm he founded in 2001 to run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and shortly thereafter to run for governor of Massachusetts. Romney was elected, but only served one term as he turned his attention to his real goal, President of the United States.

Rauner retired from GTCR last October of 2012 to explore his run for governor. Rauner didn't want his running the business to be a "conflict of interest." He knows how to game the system, despite his lack of political experience.

In order to get to the governor's office in Illinois, Rauner would have to get past the first round and defeat all three of the following gentlemen: Illinois State Senator Bill Brady, Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Illinois State Senator Kirk Dillard.

All three are seasoned political figures and all have run for office statewide. However, Rauner has decimated their abilities to raise money from the usual Republican sources.

Rauner is a money-raising machine, starting with his own self-funding. He differs from other wealthy self-funders in that he raises money from others. Since he self-funded, there are no limits on contributions.

It will not be easy for Rauner, in spite of the fact that he is running $1.5 million dollars in television ads between mid-November and Christmas. These ads have one word names: Hammer, Shake, Boom, Toast, Watch, Table, Lunch, Light and one even named Detroit.

The reviews have been negative, including Chicagoist columnist Chuck Sudo calling the commercials "kind of creepy," including one called "Lunch." In the commercial the announcer says "Bruce Rauner for governor, he will eat the career politicians for lunch."

Should Rauner get past these three gentlemen, he would have to defeat Democrat Pat Quinn, who is the sitting governor.

Whether Rauner wants to enroll a child into an impossible to get into exclusive Chicago public high school.

The same person does make government work for himself and for his family, for example, when Rauner wanted to enroll his daughter into Chicago's finest public high school.

As Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business reported earlier this year, Rauner's daughter tested to enroll in Walter Payton College Prep High School, which is the respectively ranked second and 45th-best, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The school has roughly 200 slots available, with typically 7,000 applicants. Clout-heavy Rauner's daughter was turned down at first, but a man like Rauner gets what he wants. He would do what any entitled person would do.

He made a phone call, and a man like Rauner only needs to make one phone call. His calls get returned.

In 2008, Rauner made that phone call to then-CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Arnie Duncan, for some help to beat the odds. Duncan's aide called the principal and poof, his daughter was enrolled in Walter Payton College Prep High School.

There was a small problem however, that needed to be overcome and it cost money. In order to enroll your child in a Chicago Public School, a parent had to reside in the city of Chicago. No small problem for Rauner, in spite of the fact his residence was Winnetka, Illinois. Rauner simply bought a house just a few city blocks from Chicago's Magnificent Mile, walking distance to the new school.

Presumably, Rauner official residence was the home in Chicago while his child was attending the school.

CPS Inspector General James Sullivan looked into the case. Mr. Sullivan says he can't release the report, since it deals with confidential student information. CPS says its policy is not to discuss individual students.

Attempts to reach Mr. Rauner's spokesman did not succeed. However, the Rauner family will not waive privacy rights that would allow media to read the report, said Greg Hinz in his report.

To read Part 2 click here.


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Capitol Fax - Pension Quotes

Chicago Sun Times - Rauner discloses $53M in 2012 income

New York Times - Relationship of Rauner and Emanuel (12/04/08)

Chicago Tribune - Rauner drops $1.5M on TV ads

Chicago Tribune - GTCR and Rauner in spotlight

White House Examiner - Romney outsourcing jobs to China in Freeport, Illinois

Crain's Chicago Business - Bruce Rauner's clouted kid into Payton high school


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Bruce Rauner is the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics
Bruce Rauner (left) is running for governor of Illinois. The obvious comparisons emerge between Rauner and Mitt Romney (right, counting his money). Both ran private equity funds. Credit: Rauner for Governor, Reuters (Romney)
MrGrassroots is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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