GOP Governor Bruce Rauner is taking on the entrenched special interests and corrupt politicians that have dominated Illinois for decades. In a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, Governor Rauner explains why the fight for honest government is so important – and how state Democrats, led by the powerful house speaker Mike Madigan and his billionaire ally and gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker – are doing everything possible to stop reform.
Here's more, from the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Madigan is a Democrat and Mr. Rauner a Republican, but they are opposites in a more arresting way. Mr. Rauner, 61, is a political neophyte, a reform-minded outsider.
…The 75-year-old Mr. Madigan is the epitome of a career politician. He was first elected to the House in 1970, so this his 48th year as a state representative. He became speaker in 1983 and has held that post ever since, except for the two-year term after Republicans won a majority in 1994. Since 1998 he has also been chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. In 2012 Chicago magazine called him “the Real Governor of Illinois.”
The actual governor is less complimentary, describing the speaker as “the Mafia kingpin of Illinois.” But Mr. Rauner’s war stories demonstrate that the magazine wasn’t exaggerating Mr. Madigan’s power—which extends well beyond the legislative chamber he leads—or his willingness to wield it.
Mr. Rauner’s re-election campaign is one of the country’s most important this year because it will test if it’s possible to reform a state government dominated by entrenched lawmakers and public-sector unions. The governor’s first term has been an ordeal to overcome obstacles imposed in large part by Mr. Madigan and his nexus of union money and political power.
…Mr. Rauner sounds confident and plans to spend whatever it takes to make the election a referendum on reform versus the Madigan Mafia. “They don’t really have a message,” he says. “Let’s raise taxes? That’s not a message.” Assuming Mr. Pritzker is the nominee—he too faces a contested primary—the governor plans to make hay of his connection to Mr. Madigan: “ Pritzker is totally tied to him, and Pritzker is running [as] an insider,” Mr. Rauner says. “I call him—his initials aren’t J.B., they’re M.M., Madigan’s Moneybags.”
Mr. Rauner says that if he succeeds in reforming state government, an economic renaissance is in the state’s future. Companies “love Illinois,” he says, “with our workforce, with our location in the center of the country, at the heart of manufacturing, our transportation network, our education system. . . . If we were more regulatory-friendly to businesses, we would boom.