CN March 6, 2014


Bruce Rauner is just nine months away from his inauguration as Governor of Illinois. Want to know how that happens? WLS-AM’s John Dempsey pulls out his scratch pad and runs the numbers.

(For discussion purposes here, the panel essentially assumed that Rauner becomes the nominee on March 18.)

“In 2010, Governor Quinn beat Bill Brady by 31,000 votes,” he explains. “Also on that ballot was Mark Kirk versus Alexi Giannoulias. Mark Kirk, who is a moderate Republican, got 65,000 more votes than Bill Brady. The majority of that difference between Bill Brady and Mark Kirk was in the collar counties in the Chicago suburbs. So if Bill Brady had been able to get half that vote he would be the governor now. But he didn’t, both because he ran a horrible campaign and because of his very right-leaning positions. And we’re not gonna see these kind of numbers when Rauner’s on the ballot because all of those moderates who voted for Mark Kirk, I believe, are gonna put Rauner in office. The suburbs of Chicago are where this election is gonna be decided.”

But if you’re a political animal, this will be the most brutal political street-brawl we’ve seen in a long time, according to Chicago Magazine’s Carol Felsenthal.

“If it’s a Rauner/Quinn election, this is going to be the election,” she says giddily. “It’s going to be so exciting. Joe Biden has promised to come in as much as Quinn wants him to. He’s said he’ll come in several times. Hillary Clinton will be here. Bill Clinton will be here. And Barack Obama will be here, because Quinn says I’m not gonna run away from him as others are doing, I want him to come and campaign for me.”

And Felsenthal says Quinn is ready for the fight.

“He will sling mud with the best of them. And he does it because he believes that he’s right. And he believes that he’s pure. So he’ll get down there and he’ll fight dirty,” she says.

Unions, and unionism, are playing major roles in this election. Unions are putting big money into the Dillard campaign, but they aren’t necessarily enthusiastic supporters.

“It’s not so much a pro-union thing as it is an anti-Rauner thing,” Dempsey explains. “These union people do not want Rauner to win, because I believe that if Rauner wins, he has a very good chance of beating Quinn. They’re hopeful that by getting people out to vote for Dillard a week from next Tuesday, that Rauner will get fewer votes and that Rauner may lose. That’s their strategy. But the question is, how many committed, left-leaning union members are gonna take a Republican ballot. I think some will, but not enough to affect this election.”

But Felsenthal says it’s more than that. “They’re investing in the eventual defeat of Bruce Rauner (in the general election). They’re dirtying him up now so that Quinn can beat him. What they’re trying to do is they’re trying do define Rauner the way the Democrats successfully defined Mitt Romney. There are a lot of parallels.”

We also reserved some time to talk about Mayor Emanuel’s Soldier Field trail balloon and his latest back-handed attack on Rich Daley – that they should have built the stadium right the first time – and the Mayor’s apparent reversal on giving $55 million in TIF money to the DePaul arena.







About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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