CN Nov 6 2014


What’s going to happen when Bruce Rauner and his new opponent Mike Madigan finally sit down for their first big meeting? How hostile will it be? Not very, speculates Delmarie Cobb, veteran Democratic political strategist and observer.

“They have a record already of working together,” she says. “They worked together on  Stand For Children Illinois, when they raised the threshold for the (CTU) strike vote. And to expand charter schools. And the $98 million to UNO to open schools. So it’s not like they haven’t worked together. It’s just that we didn’t know about it. So now we’re gonna know about it.”

Chris Robling had a very, very good night on Tuesday. As a prominent Republican strategist and ubiquitous commentator on broadcast media and print, Chris is very pleased that Bruce Rauner has become Governor.

“I think that Rauner is genuinely not political,” he claims. “Part of his assertion to the people is – I don’t need this job. And I’m not looking to be something else. I’m not looking to be Senator or use this as a stepping stone to president or something. I’m looking to straighten out the State of Illinois. I think Rauner is gonna do horse-trading because that’s the only way he’s gonna get agreement. But I think that personal political, and, indeed partisan political considerations are going to recede. I think you’re going to see him moving us to fiscal sanity with whatever chits he can exchange.”

“But I think that what you call fiscal sanity is political,” Cobb retorts. “I don’t care that he’s not a career politician or that he’s not taking a salary or that he only wants to be there two terms. What I care about are the issues that he considers dear to him. And those are issues that I don’t think are necessarily the best issues for the majority of people who are in the most need. He did not support minimum wage – he only came around to minimum wage when it was first discovered, and then with caveats. And those caveats are pro-business and they’re designed to create an economic climate in Illinois that will help other businesses and CEOs like himself…He wouldn’t have expanded Medicaid. He’s for the privatization of public education. He’s anti-union. He wants to create opportunity zones, as he calls them, which is a right-to-work state. So when you look at those, those are all political. So he doesn’t have to be political, he is political.

Robling changes subjects. “I would advance this as a general theory right now. The single most significant phenomenon that is facing U.S. politics right now and domestic government is the relationship between politics and the public-employee unions. There’s no question in my mind about it.”

Again, Cobb doesn’t see it that way.  “The biggest impact to the decline of the middle-class is the decline of unions. And as for African-Americans, unions are the backbone for the black middle-class. There would not be a black middle-class had it not been for unions…Those were the jobs that we were able to get. The government jobs, the teaching jobs, those were the jobs we were able to get when we couldn’t get any other jobs.”

But union members are reluctant to stay in their unions, according to Robling.

“In Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Indiana, when those relationships were opened so that union membership was no longer compulsory,” he asserts, “In Indiana it was 93% left the unions, in Wisconsin it was 91% and I think in Michigan it ended up being 92.5 percent. So if unions are doing so well for these individuals, then you’ve gotta reconcile that with the fact that when people have a choice, they leave.”

We talk about the Illinois turnout numbers, especially with regard to the Governor’s race. “There are things Quinn could have done to increase the black turnout and I think that’s where he missed opportunities,” she says.  Only about 16% of African Americans voted,  she says, although Quinn got 93% of it.

So was the black vote in Cook County suppressed deliberately? Well, says Robling, it might have been discouraged by popular talk show host Tavis Smiley.  “This is Tavis’ quote, not mine. He said there is no reason for blacks to turn out in this election. Obama has given us no reason to turn out. He said there is no reason for Hispanics to turn out. If you take a look at the communities, these guys shouldn’t be turning out. That’s not Rauner’s fault.”

And further, claims Robling, Bruce Rauner has a long history of involvement in minority communities. “I don’t think people should sell short Rauner’s involvement in the most challenged communities in the City of Chicago. It goes back more than a decade in terms of his personal involvement and personal commitment and he and Diana spending tens of millions of dollars (on charitable causes in minority communities).”

“Well,” Cobb responds,”I can be charitable and never employ a black person in my life. There is a big difference.”

Bonus question:

What are Hillary’s chances after Tuesday’s elections?

Chris Robling: “zip.”

Does the election help Hillary?

Delmarie Cobb: “Yes.”.



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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