Super-lobbyist Kimme touts state insurance director for Rauner Chief of Staff role
Governor Bruce Rauner is looking for a new chief of staff-- and Illinois super-lobbyist Nancy Kimme has a replacement in mind.
Sources close to the situation say Jennifer Hammer, 35, currently director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, has emerged as Kimme's top choice.
Hammer is close with Kimme's business partner, Rauner aide-turned-lobbyist Aaron Winters.
Placing Hammer in a leading executive office role would represent a big win for Kimme, whose access to Rauner's office has been limited, if not shut down, sources say, since previous Chief of Staff Richard Goldberg was replaced by Kristina Rasmussen in July.
Goldberg and his chief of staff predecessor, Mike Zolnierowicz, were close allies of Kimme.
An attorney, Hammer worked six years for the Springfield firm of Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes before joining the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in Feb. 2014.
Name partner Herman Bodewes is a prominent Democrat lawyer who once served on the staff of Senate President Cecil Partee (D-Chicago), as well as on the State Remap Commission in 1970.
Winters works with Kimme at Advantage Government Strategies, which Illinois Secretary of State records indicate lobbies the Governor's office and the Illinois Department of Insurance. Advantage counts Kemper Insurance as a client.
Hammer is married to Grant Hammer, 34, who works as an administrator in the Illinois Department of Agriculture. He previously worked in Rauner's office as "Director of Constituent Affairs" and, before that, as a "logistics specialist" for State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and as a lobbyist for the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, which fights against changes to the state public pension system.
Grant Hammer has political ambition himself and was recently called "a protege of Gov. Bruce Rauner" by Illinois Times.
He's on the Springfield Park Board and was considered as a potential candidate to replace State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove), who announced she is not running for re-election.