National Review calls Rauner 'Worst Republican Governor in America'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In a lengthy article in its newest issue, the leading conservative publication National Review took Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to task for what it calls his failures to pass many of the agenda items that got him elected, and also for a controversial abortion rights bill he signed this fall that prompted a taxpayer lawsuit.

The National Review cover shows a caricature of Rauner with a broken down motorcycle, trying to hitch a ride. The image plays off the campaign ad Rauner released in October showing him riding the state on his Harley, in which he promised to fight for Illinois.

The article, which calls Rauner the "Worst Republican Governor in America," rips him for compromising his first term 44-point agenda down to five. It's almost as if Rauner's own words when he announced his reelection plans were coming back to haunt him.

"This is about holding our politicians accountable for results," he said in the ad.

The article criticized Rauner, saying, "This much is clear: Illinois hardly could do worse. It suffers from one of the weakest economies in the nation, with the slowest personal-income growth, low labor-force participation, and distressing levels of manufacturing job losses. Its tax burden is among the heaviest in the country."

In a statement, Rauner's campaign said, "We're glad National Review pointed out that Mike Madigan and his cronies have consistently blocked Governor Rauner's reform agenda just to protect their own corrupt practices. Governor Rauner will keep fighting to make Illinois a better place to live and work for everyone by working to lower property taxes, increasing school choice, and eliminating job-killing regulations."

Some of the harshest criticism was over the governor's flip-flop on a promise to veto an abortion bill. That bill, which rauner signed in September, provides for taxpayer-funded abortions. Now a conservative group has sued to block that bill, saying there is no funding to pay for abortions.

Kirk Dillard, who lost the primary to Rauner in 2014, said the criticism of the governor comes with the territory.

"I'm not sure anybody in public life has the kind of ratings that they want, it's a long way to the election and I've told people the gubernatorial race is a tossup and I don't put much stock in anybody's ratings, in the National Review or any place at this point in time," Dillard said.

Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, said, "National Review highlighted the simple fact that Republicans in Illinois are facing an uphill battle. It is not easy to challenge an entrenched career politician like Mike Madigan, but Bruce Rauner has fought to enact real reforms in our state. From school choice to cutting regulations that restrict job growth, Governor Rauner has shaken up the status quo, and continues to fight for change every day."

National Review points out that Rauner has a $67 million war chest and the ability to add to that.

The article ends with a quote from Rauner's own reelection video: "Nothin' worthwhile is ever easy."

Rauner faces a primary challenge from conservative State Representative Jeanne Ives. The primary is on March 20, 2018.
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