EXCLUSIVE: Bruce Rauner considered not running for reelection, tried to recruit other candidates

Craig Wall Image
Friday, December 14, 2018
Rauner tried to recruit replacements for 2018 election
In an exclusive interview with ABC7 Governor Bruce Rauner made a stunning revelation that he considered not running for reelection and tried to find replacements.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In an exclusive interview with ABC7 Governor Bruce Rauner made a stunning revelation that he considered not running for reelection and tried to find replacements, two women and two men from the political and business worlds.

Rauner also blamed the outcome of the Presidential election two years ago for seriously hurting his chances.

Bruce Rauner, in his final month as governor, revealed in an exclusive interview that he tried to convince two men and two women to run in his place this election cycle.

"And I said I'll step aside, I'll give you huge financial resources, you run for governor, I'll support you. You have as good or better chance to get elected than me. All four of them said no, too tough, too unlikely, too difficult," said Governor Bruce Rauner.

Bruce Rauner spoke exclusively with ABC7 Eyewitness News Political Reporter Craig Wall about how he considered not running for reelection and even tried to recruit another candidat

Sources say former state senator Karen McConnaughey was one of them, when reached by phone she declined to comment. Sources also say Cubs part-owner Todd Ricketts was unsuccessfully recruited by Rauner.

Rauner would go on to lose his reelection bid by 16 points to JB Pritzker, blaming President Trump in part for his loss.

"When President Trump won the White House, but lost Illinois by 16 points, I think 16 to 17 points, that changed the dynamic from good chance for reelection to very, very difficult chance for reelection," Rauner said.

But when pressed if Trump was the main reason, Rauner said no.

"I would say it's a contributing factor. I personally believe that if Senator Clinton had won the White House, the odds of us winning reelection would have been dramatically higher.

Rauner was asked what he will miss the most and the least about being governor?

"I will miss a lot of the people I have had the privilege to work with," Rauner said. "I will not miss the stress. This has been the hardest job I've ever done by far."

"What I'm gonna do is actually give time to reflect. Frankly, I've been so focused on governing and messaging in the moment I haven't done as much reflecting and analysis of the last six years," he added.

Rauner also spoke about what he learned about his political nemesis Mike Madigan.

"I learned that working with him directly won't get the result, he responds through his caucus. Pressure through his caucus is the way to get the Speaker to move," he said.

Rauner doesn't think the future of the Republican Party is necessarily clear at the moment either.

"That's a good question. There's gonna be a lot soul searching, a lot of battles, a lot of debates and arguments," he said.

He offered this advice to governor-elect JB Pritzker:

"Study what the Democrats did in Rhode Island to fix their pensions, study what California Democrats did on term limits and fair maps," Rauner said.

Sources with intimate knowledge of Rauner's effort to recruit a replacement said it happened before and even after the primary in the Spring of 2018.

One called the revelation breathtaking and a disservice to Rauner's supporters, saying perhaps the governor should have instead just announced he wasn't running for reelection.

As for his future plans, the governor said will attend Pritzker's inauguration on January 13, but after that he will take time off to spend time with family and friends - something he said he has not had time to do much of in the past six years while running for and then being governor.