Were Tuesday's Democratic wins predictive of Rauner's future?

Thursday, November 09, 2017 05:39PM
Does the election of two Democratic governors on the East Coast point to potential problems for Governor Rauner next year?


CHICAGO - Does the election of two Democratic governors on the East Coast point to potential problems for Governor Rauner next year?

If Bruce Rauner is going to win re-election next year he is going to have to overcome a key factor that helped Democrats take over the governor's office in New Jersey and fend off a Republican challenge in Virginia - a Democratic party energized by anti-Trump sentiments.

Rauner has already positioned himself as a fighter in his most recent campaign ad, focusing his attacks on his arch-nemesis, House Speaker Mike Madigan. But political analysts say that won't be Rauner's only problem.

"Democrats are going to turn out the vote. If they do and the numbers they have here in Illinois, they're going to look pretty formidable when it comes to the gubernatorial elections," said Thom Serafin, a political analyst.

"The fact that the conservative base may stay home is a real problem for Rauner, there's not a lot of activity in this election to get them excited. There's not a lot of issues to get them excited," said political analyst Laura Washington.

Rauner so angered his conservative base by signing a bill that allows state funded abortions for poor women and state workers that State Representative Jeanne Ives is now gathering signatures for a primary challenge.

But the former head of the Illinois Republican Party believes Rauner's agenda can bring the party together in the general election.

"Republicans can unite around those issues that he's running on, property tax relief, workers compensation reform, income tax relief," said Republican Strategist Pat Brady.

Democrats are going to try and tie Rauner to President Trump and his slumping popularity.

"Bruce Rauner has been running away from Trump and there's a reason for that, because this is a blue state. Trump voters, particularly in the northern part of the state are far and few between," said Washington.

So Trump and Madigan could be the two most often heard names in a race they aren't even running in.

"This is going to be, do you want to go back to the Mike Madigan way of doing business and over taxation, or do you want to vote for Governor Rauner who's truly tried to reform this state, in addition to being a social moderate," said Brady.

But Rauner may need to enhance his own image and not just bash Madigan's.

"Rauner has to show some love, he has to be personable, he has to be well liked, he has to a person who's looking for those who are disadvantaged," said Serafin.

But of course one thing that won't be a problem for Rauner is money and he is expected to spend a lot of it along with whoever ends up coming out of the crowded field of Democrats running for governor.
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