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items tagged with Bruce Rauner

Nobody Appears Ready to Fill Topinka’s Role with Rauner
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2014-12-21 11:30:11

There’s little doubt that the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka would’ve continued her straight-talking ways during the administration of Governor-elect Bruce Rauner.

Topinka was good copy for reporters. When she criticized a budget or a fiscal position, we listened.

Other Statehouse denizens respected her fiscal smarts as well. If she attacked a proposal, legislators and everyone else under the dome took note.

Rauner showed great deference to Topinka after the election, officing in her Statehouse suite and giving her chief of staff the authority to hire most of his new employees. I don’t think there’s any question that he grew to truly admire the quirky redhead.

But Topinka had called for a far more gradual reduction to the state’s 2011 income-tax hike than Rauner has said he wants. A particularly brutal package of budget cuts or one-time gimmicks proposed by Rauner next year wouldn’t have gone down too well with her. Rauner would’ve had to take her opinion into account before unveiling his budget or suffer the consequences afterward.

She was also much more liberal than Rauner admits to. Topinka was expected to help build bridges between Rauner and organized labor, as well as to Democrats and left-of-center groups she worked with over the years and who have not yet become comfortable with the idea of a Republican governor.

Yes, many of us lost a friend this month when Topinka died, but we also lost an experienced, respected politico who could counsel the new and inexperienced governor about how to be a more effective leader – and one who could help nudge him, publicly or privately, to stay on a more humane and fiscally responsible fiscal path.

And with Topinka’s post-election passing, I don’t see any of Rauner’s fellow Republicans out there with the power or credibility who will also have the guts to stand up to the guy.

Some holes can be patched here and there. Both Republican state legislative leaders have ties to unions, for example. And Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is a former social worker who has championed human services causes.

But neither of those leaders has yet to show much independence from Rauner, whose money had a major impact on House races this year and could have an equally big impact on 2016 Senate races.

For instance, Governor Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton have all forcefully argued for a special election so that Rauner's pick for Topinka's replacement won’t serve beyond a 2016 special election. A four-year appointment by Rauner, they all argue, is downright undemocratic.

When the topic was first broached, Rauner claimed such an election would be unconstitutional, but the Illinois Constitution clearly says that the appointee serves until the successor is elected and qualified “as may be provided by law.”

The next day, the two legislative leaders, Radogno and House GOP Leader Jim Durkin, released what higher-ups in the attorney general’s office derisively dismissed as a “half-baked” legal opinion about why a special session would be unconstitutional.

The opinion deliberately left out crucial words in important constitutional passages, defied logic by claiming the “as may be provided by law” passage didn’t allow the legislature to actually do anything, and ignored committee reports from and debate at the state’s constitutional convention, which made it abundantly clear that the legislature has the authority to act.

Not only did that opinion bode ill for the incoming Rauner administration (with one person at the attorney general’s office saying it reminded her of Rod Blagojevich, whose lawyers would often pull legal arguments out of thin air to counter the attorney general); it also showed an astonishing servility by the two GOP legislative leaders.

I don’t know whether Topinka would’ve wanted a special election to replace her in 2016, rather than allow her successor to serve four years until after the regularly scheduled 2018 election. She had her partisan leanings, so she might be wary of holding a special election in a presidential election year, when Democrats do much better than in off years. But she was also a small-“d” democrat, and a four-year appointment sure doesn’t feel democratic to many folks.

I do know, however, that Topinka never would’ve signed her name to an obviously bogus legal “argument” such as the one released last week.

“There's a hole in the hearts of the people of this state,” Quinn said at Topinka’s memorial service last week. That’s true. But there’s also now a gaping hole in the government that assumes power next month.

 Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax (a daily political newsletter) and CapitolFax.com.



Blame Can Be Spread Widely for Minimum-Wage Failure
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2014-12-07 22:41:54

Pretty much every Statehouse finger of blame was pointing north toward Chicago for the minimum-wage-hike bill’s failure during the legislative veto session that ended last week.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel does indeed have a lot of explaining to do. His decision to move up a vote to pass a $13-an-hour minimum wage for his city completely undercut Springfield’s efforts to pass a statewide minimum wage capped everywhere at $11 an hour.


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GOP Legislators Overeager About Appointments
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2014-11-23 11:13:29

Whenever a new governor is about to be sworn in, one of the most popular Springfield parlor games is figuring out who is on their way out and who is on their way in.

Of course, when a new governor is sworn in from a different party, the “who is out” part is relatively easy – pretty much everybody without civil-service job protection is out. Governor-elect Bruce Rauner is a Republican who just defeated Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, so almost all of Quinn’s people are surely gone.

But who will Rauner bring in to run the government? I cannot tell you how many times I’m asked that question every day.

Much of the recent local speculation has focused on Republican state legislators, partly because most of the people closest to the outsider Rauner are unknown to the Springfield crowd. Legislators, on the other hand, are very well known. Some of those legislators are not-so-subtly floating their own names; some are just naturally assumed to be on a short list.

As a result, there are so many rumors going around about so many legislators being “sure thing” appointments that I long ago lost track of the count. It seems at times that the number could be half of the Republican caucus.


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Rauner Should Be Able to Work with Madigan
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2014-11-16 11:23:15

Last December, Bruce Rauner appeared on a WLS Radio talk show and revealed that he planned to form a new campaign committee to counter the power of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“We’re gonna raise a PAC, we’re gonna raise a fund dedicated to the state legislature, members of both parties who take the tough votes,” Rauner said. “We’ve gotta protect the members who take tough votes.”

“Right now,” Rauner continued, “Madigan controls the legislature from his little pot of cash. It isn’t that much money. And he runs the whole state government out of that pot. We need a pro-business, pro-growth, pro-limited-government, pro-tax-reduction PAC down there in Springfield working with the legislature for those who take tough votes.”

Word is that Rauner’s new legislative PAC will be launched relatively soon – perhaps after the governor-elect’s transition committee has finished its job.


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Quinn’s Doomed Strategy Gave Rauner an Easy Win
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2014-11-09 11:48:05

Bruce Rauner out-performed fellow Republican Bill Brady’s 2010 gubernatorial-election performance in every region of the state last week. As I write this, with less than half a percent of the vote yet to be counted, Rauner has a 5-point margin over Governor Pat Quinn and appears to have won a majority vote in a three-way election.

The national headwinds against the Democratic Party surely played a role in the Quinn loss. But Rauner did better than other Republicans on the ticket. Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is widely considered one of the most popular Republicans in Illinois, and yet she under-performed Rauner. At this writing, GOP state Representative Tom Cross and Democratic state Senator Michael Frerichs are just about tied in the treasurer’s race. And Republican Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier appears to have narrowly survived an attempt to oust him.

Rauner scored just above the magic 20-percent number in Chicago, a point at which – with a significant advantage in the rest of the state – a Republican can win a statewide election.

But he didn’t really need it. He out-performed Brady’s 2010 campaign in suburban Cook County by 6 points, outdid the Downstater in his own region by a point, and dwarfed Brady’s 2010 numbers throughout the collar counties.


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