Analysis

Rauner's big donation gives Dems more ammunition

2014-06-23T00:00:00Z Rauner's big donation gives Dems more ammunitionKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
June 23, 2014 12:00 am  • 

There were a lot of adjectives used to describe what happened to Republican Bruce Rauner's campaign for governor the other day.

Eye-popping. Astounding. Incredible.

The subject of the commentary was a $2.5 million campaign contribution Rauner received from fellow rich guy Ken Griffin. Experts say it is the largest contribution ever.

State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, called the amount "ridiculous."

"That just blows me away. Its almost obscene," Jacobs said.

Even Republicans looking to break the Democratic hold on state government were somewhat astonished.

"Everybody is surprised by the size of it," said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont.

But Griffin's giant check won't just benefit Rauner as he seeks to topple Gov. Pat Quinn.

It also will give Quinn and his Democratic allies more ammunition to continue their ongoing theme of class warfare, suggesting to voters that Rauner's attempt to cast himself as a Carhartt-wearing, Harley-riding regular guy is pure phoniness.

In a release, the Democratic Governors Association said, "Billionaires and multimillionaires know that Rauner will spend every day in office fighting tirelessly to enrich them and their pals. Rauner has kept his real plans secret from the public, but with every billionaire’s dollar, we can see him and his Wall Street agenda coming."

Just to keep that theme going, Quinn made a big deal about helping poor people when he signed legislation concerning the minimum wage.

The governor approved a non-binding referendum Sunday asking voters this November whether they support raising the $8.25 an hour minimum wage to $10 an hour for people 18 and over.

The measure keeps the issue in the spotlight and could stir up a few more Democratic votes when Election Day arrives.

-- MORE QUESTIONS

Speaking of ballot questions, Rauner's bid to get a term limits referendum on the ballot received good news last week when state election regulators ruled the effort has enough signatures to qualify.

The next hurdle is getting past a lawsuit filed by election law czar Mike Kasper, a former top aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

Wednesday marked the first day of oral arguments in the case. Rauner thinks he has the court of public opinion on his side.

"The only obstacle left is politics," he wrote in a statement.

-- SCOTT WALKER CONNECTION

The Associated Press reported Thursday that federal prosecutors believe Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker illegally coordinated fundraising with conservative groups as part of a "criminal scheme" to violate election laws during his recall election two years ago.

This is the same Scott Walker whom Rauner has said he admires.

It also is the same Scott Walker who had a spokesman who is a twin brother of Rauner's communications chief.

Mike Schrimpf was working at the Republican Governor's Association when brother Chris was in the Walker camp.

No charges have been filed against Walker or any member of his staff.

-- WE'RE NO. 2

Forget all those gloomy economic indicators suggesting Illinois' economy is still a mess.

According to one ranking, the state actually is in the Top Five of at least one category.

A University of Kansas geographer compared the 48 contiguous states and Washington D.C. to determine which one is the flattest.

Florida won, but Illinois came in second.

“I know that the flattest place I’ve ever seen is central Illinois," professor Jerome Dobson told a Chicago newspaper.

Third on the list was North Dakota. Indiana was 10th.

-- GOOD LUCK

A special thank you goes out to this year's Springfield bureau intern, T.J. Fowler.

T.J., who hails from Macomb, covered the spring legislative session for Lee Enterprises' Illinois papers as part of his master's degree program in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

He is now off to a job covering city hall for the Sioux City Journal, a Lee newspaper in Iowa.

T.J. may be the first intern I've had who can ride a unicycle.

The opinions are the writer's. Kurt Erickson is the Lee Enterprises Springfield bureau chief. He can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or (217) 782-4043.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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