Rauner reveals self beyond campaign ads

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The race for Illinois governor is shaping up to be a tough one with Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn fighting an aggressive campaign by Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.

Not many know what the billionaire venture capitalist is like off the campaign trail, until now.

Not only did ABC7 Eyewitness News get an exclusive invite to visit Rauner at his North Shore home, but also we met some of the people with whom he hangs out. And of course, we got another chance to talk to the super-wealthy businessman about money.

"I've done very, very well financially. I'm proud of that," Rauner said.

Rauner still lives in the house he built 20 years ago. By far it is not one of the largest or most expensive homes in tiny Winnetka.

"I'm not into conspicuous consumption at all," he said. "That's not of interest to me."

It is one of nine Rauner residences around the country that include a Montana cattle ranch and an apartment overlooking New York City's Central Park.

"Virtually every piece of property I own is an investment and its done extraordinarily well," he said.

But the 57-year-old, semi-retired venture capitalist says he does not know exactly how much his real estate and other assets are worth.

"I have a lot of private investments that it's not clear exactly what they're worth," he said. "To some degree, I have stocks that go up and down in value. It's hundreds of millions of dollars for sure."

Rauner grew up in north suburban Deerfield, his father an engineer for Motorola, his mother a nurse. He says his Swedish immigrant grandfather, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, taught him to love the outdoors as well as the value of hard work, education and charity.

"He didn't have much money," Rauner said of his father. "He spent much, many years of his life in a double-wide trailer and proud of it."

To get away from business and more recently politics, Rauner rides his Harley.

"The feeling of gliding, the wind in the face, sunshine, people going by, it's a great feeling of freedom, very relaxing," he said.

He's a member of the A.B.A.T.E. Motorcycle Club whose leader said Rauner joined in 2008.

"I was shocked when I heard," Patrick Jones said of Rauner's wealth. "To us he's just a regular guy."

But Rauner realizes there's nothing regular about running for governor. He says he would not be surprised if democrats uncover more scandals involving some of the companies in which his company has invested.

"Human beings aren't perfect and we've invested in thousands of executives and sometimes their behavior isn't what it should be," he said.

And Rauner, who wants the Illinois income tax increase rolled back, says he doesn't feel pressure to release his version of a state budget without the additional revenue.

He's waiting for state lawmakers to pass their spending plan before he speaks.

"We're going to have a good plan, well thought through and it will be very different from how these guys are doing it now," he said.

Rauner's reluctance to immediately issue a budget plan brought a response Sunday night from Governor Pat Quinn's campaign.

A spokeswoman e-mailed: "Rauner's plans are so offensive to working people, it's no surprise he'd try to keep hiding them."

But back to what Rauner did say and show this weekend, it's good to see more of this candidate's personal side.

Most of what we've seen of him has been during commercials.
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