Let me get this straight -- Bruce Rauner spent more than $50 million of his own money to keep a job he really didn’t want?
Apparently, after reviewing his poll numbers that showed he was not quite as well liked as tooth decay, he got cold feet and didn’t want the job anymore.
He now says he offered four individuals campaign money to run in his place.
None would take him up on the offer.
Can you blame them?
Illinois state government is in disarray. No state has a worse credit rating than the Land of Lincoln. Our pension plans are underfunded to the tune of $130 billion and things are moving from bad to worse.
But that doesn’t explain why Rauner is a failed governor. Two words come to mind: arrogance and deceit.
I make these observations with a bit of humility. I voted for Rauner in 2014. When he won, I felt a tinge of optimism.
It didn’t last long.
Rauner is the first governor in my lifetime to use government as a weapon. He essentially told the legislature: “Pass my reforms or I’ll use my veto pen along with my legislative allies to keep the state from having a budget.”
We went 736 days without a budget and not one of his key reforms became reality.
This is not how a democratic government should operate. It should be a process of unifying, of seeking input, of finding compromise that benefits everyone, of careful and well-considered positions and negotiations.
Governing properly is the art of calming the waters, not throwing hand grenades into them.
Then Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno tried to save Rauner – and the state of Illinois – by quietly negotiating with Senate President John Cullerton. The compromise package covered much of Rauner’s wish list – but not all of it.
Instead of embracing a partial win, the governor turned up his nose and walked away, leaving himself and the state of Illinois in worse shape.
And then there is the lying. Rauner lied about big things and little things. No, his grandparents weren’t immigrants from Sweden. They were born in Wisconsin. It was a fib he told over and over – even after being called out on it by reporters.
Yes, I’m well aware politicians lie.
But Rauner developed a reputation in Springfield that his word just wasn’t good.
The most infamous example, of course, was when he told a group of pro-life lawmakers that he would veto a measure providing state-funded abortions for women on Medicaid and those covered by state insurance. Later, he made the same pledge to Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, only to sign HB 40 a few months later.
Republican lawmakers knew he was pro-choice when he first ran and they still supported him. But they weren’t willing to support someone who lied to them.
After this legacy of failure, it’s hardly surprising that disgusted voters gave Rauner the boot.
The governor can look back on the last four years as an expensive lesson – not just for himself – but for the people of Illinois.
– Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse journalist and a freelance reporter. ScottReeder1965@gmail.com