Bruce Rauner was all charm Tuesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel, working the well-heeled crowd at a dinner gala. The gubernatorial candidate greeted me at the cocktail reception, all smiles and quips.
I was taken aback, since his campaign has severely limited access to us pesky reporters. The night before, I had been on a panel that grilled Rauner at the ABC7 debate.
How gracious, I thought.
The next day, a Rauner campaign ad turned up, with a sound bite from yours truly, crediting Rauner with a “sweeping series of endorsements” from major newspapers across the state.
No wonder he was happy to see me.
Bruce Rauner wants to “Shake Up Springfield.” I am all for that. His business expertise could be what Illinois needs now. But the devil is in the details.
I have covered Gov. Pat Quinn for decades. I served in the Harold Washington administration when Quinn was the mayor’s revenue director. He has made mistakes and missteps. Along with every politician in Illinois, and the rest of us.
His rocky relationship with the state’s legislative leaders is no surprise, since he has spent most of his political career as a reform-minded gadfly. Quinn is not corrupt.
He has a plan to boost state funding for public schools. Regular public schools. He cares about civil rights and social justice.
He has tapped several African-Americans for his senior staff, including the deputy governor, and appointed a dozen black cabinet members, who oversee 30,600 employees, according to his campaign. Quinn found them, somehow.
The black vote has been front and center in this long, grueling campaign. Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was aimed at that vote. Now it is under investigation. Its execution was sloppy. It was also a badly needed response to the pernicious violence plaguing our communities.
That’s what we know about Quinn. From Rauner, there have been too many evasions, too much shucking and jiving, too few answers.
So, some questions, Mr. Rauner: Do allegations of hardball tactics against a female colleague and a first-rate newspaper reporter foreshadow your governing style? Are you another Rahm Emanuel in the making? More…