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Kirk Kerfuffle Shows Who’s in Charge of the GOP PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 02 August 2015 05:12

If there were any doubt before last week, there’s zero uncertainty now: Governor Bruce Rauner won’t allow anyone else to interfere with his dominance of the Illinois Republican Party.

When the party was out of power for 12 years, several independent actors were always trying to influence elections from behind the scenes, elbowing people out, putting people in. This is a diverse state, and the party has numerous factions, both economic and social. All of those factions have de facto leaders.

One of those independent actors has been Ron Gidwitz, a moderate, wealthy business executive and one-time gubernatorial candidate with a network that includes lots of his rich friends. He ran the moneyed wing of the party.

Gidwitz used his and his friends’ money to boost candidates who were to his liking. He backed Senator Kirk Dillard for governor in 2010, for instance, then switched his allegiance to Bruce Rauner four years later. That move did more to hurt Dillard than it did to help the mainly self-funding Rauner, because it totally dried up Dillard’s money, leaving him unable to effectively compete until organized labor finally entered the race on his behalf.

After months of public silence, Gidwitz re-emerged last week. Sources say he has been bad-mouthing U.S. Senator Mark Kirk behind the scenes for quite a while. A recent Michael Sneed item in the Chicago Sun-Times about an anonymous top Republican who wanted Kirk to step down from the Senate was widely pinned on him.

Governor Needs to Learn to Deal with Madigan PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 26 July 2015 05:11

Last week, Governor Bruce Rauner declared to reporters that if it weren’t for House Speaker Michael Madigan, the budget impasse would’ve been resolved.

And perhaps if the sky were green, then grass would be blue.

For starters, what the governor said is dubious. In the absence of Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and his liberal Democratic caucus wouldn’t have gone along with the harshly anti-union aspects of Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” in exchange for a budget deal and tax hike, as the governor is demanding.

Mailer Shows Off Rauner’s Political Muscle PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 19 July 2015 05:24

House Speaker Michael Madigan told reporters earlier this month that he’d had a “frank discussion” with Governor Bruce Rauner, “and I gave him good, solid advice.”

Word is that advice had two parts.

First, the governor needs to find a way to get himself out of this long overtime-session, no-state-budget mess.

Second, if the governor thinks he can get himself out of this mess by somehow breaking the speaker’s will, he’s mistaken.

But the governor isn’t giving up. In fact, he’s doubled down.

The Dueling Realities of the Budget Stalemate PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Monday, 13 July 2015 09:56

After staring at my computer screen for more than an hour, I realized that my goal of providing a succinct and thoughtful analysis of what happened on a very weird day last week in Illinois government was impossible.

Instead, we’re going to have to take this in pieces.

The court case. C.J. Baricevic was one of the lawyers representing a host of unions in their successful St. Clair County lawsuit to force the state to pay its employees without a budget. The victory Thursday came just two days after a Cook County judge ruled that paying employees without an official state budget was a clear and total violation of the Illinois Constitution.

Why was St. Clair County’s ruling so different?

Well, Baricevic happens to be the son of the county’s chief judge, John Baricevic, who was once the county-board chair and is regarded as one of the most powerful Democrats in the region. The younger Baricevic is the local Democratic choice for Congress against freshman Republican U.S. Representative Mike Bost. According to Ballotpedia, the judge in Thursday’s case also appears to be up for retention next year in the heavily unionized county.

Hey, I’m not saying nothing bad about no judges. I visit that fine county every now and then. I’m even told the judge in the case isn’t the type to be sensitive to such pressures. “He’s just a pro-labor guy at heart,” explained one area politico, who added that I was “reading too much” into the local political angle.

I’m just saying.

Democrats Finding Wedges to Use Against Rauner PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 05 July 2015 12:23

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is proving to be quite adept at skirting responsibility for the current Statehouse impasse and impending government shutdown.

He has relentlessly painted himself as the good guy, even to the point of blatantly abandoning his previous stances.

For instance, Rauner has righteously slammed the Democrats’ “unconstitutional” unbalanced budget, even though his own proposed budget was also billions of dollars out of balance.

Rauner trashed that Democratic budget even after he signed the part that funded schools, thereby ensuring that he avoided blame if schools didn’t open on time.

Rauner warned in April that the state had no money to bail out Chicago, then offered $200 million a year in “found money” for the Chicago Public Schools to keep it from going belly up.

He often refers to the state employee union AFSCME as “AFSCAMMY” and told the Chicago Tribune editorial board that the crisis of a state fiscal meltdown “creates opportunity” to get his non-budget issues passed. But last week he pledged to work arm-in-arm with the unions to make sure those poor state workers got their paychecks, even though the lack of a budget means there is no legal appropriation to do so.

He’s a clever dude, that one. He’ll say just about anything to shift the focus off of him and on to the Democrats.

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