Tom Kacich: Rauner runs national campaign for state office

Tom Kacich: Rauner runs national campaign for state office

Bruce Rauner is running for governor of Illinois, but he's running nationally, almost like a candidate for president.

In the last quarter of fundraising, the wealthy Republican businessman from Chicago reported campaign contributions from donors in 30 states and the District of Columbia. During the period he raised more money from supporters in Connecticut ($13,300) than he did from Champaign-Urbana ($11,800), more money from Nebraska ($10,500) than from Naperville ($6,050).

More than 35 percent of the $3.3 million Rauner has raised this year has come from out of state, including $189,850 from New York, $173,300 from California, $110.900 from Florida and $74,200 from Texas.

It's a stunning amount, unprecedented in an Illinois gubernatorial race, according to Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

"In Rahm Emanuel's race his profile was quite national, in terms of his run for mayor of Chicago. That would be the only race analogous to this," said Redfield. "That national, global business community might explain some of the similarities between Rauner and Emanauel and their fundraising."

But Rauner also is capitalizing on changes in campaign finance laws and the growth of business groups seeking to influence public policy, Redfield said.

"With the way campaign finance has changed, you have these big business interests that are not so much interested in social issues as much as they are in right to work, reducing public employee unions, pensions, business taxes, school reform, those issues. The landscape has changed and there is big national money that is looking for opportunities to move an agenda," said Redfield.

"Where he is positioning himself has appeal to certain groups and individuals. And what seems like a big contribution to me — maxxing out at $5,000 — probably isn't a large contribution to some of the people he's getting money from. If they're looking at it as making a contribution to someone who can move the state agenda and the state process in the directions of what pushed Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, then that's a good investment. And in relative terms if Rauner flames out, $5,000 is a big deal to me but probably not to a lot of the people who are writing these checks."

Rauner's campaign spokesman, Mike Schrimpf, said "no candidate in this race is working harder than Bruce. He has raised most of his money from inside Illinois and has vastly outraised the other candidates from inside and outside Illinois."

Rauner's Republican opponents — Dan Rutherford, Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard — combined have raised only about $150,000 from outside Illinois. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has received nearly $2.4 million this year, about $359,000 from out of state.

In his last race for governor, Quinn raised about $23.4 million, of which $18 million, or about 77 percent, was from Illinois. But those out of state numbers were skewed by institutional support Quinn got from the Democratic Governors Association ($1.8 million), the Service Employees International Union ($1.1 million) and AFSCME ($300,000), all in Washington, D.C.

As to why out of staters are interested in the Illinois gubernatorial race, Schrimpf said, "Illinois is the economic center of the Midwest and a major driver of the national economy. Folks both inside and outside the state understand Illinois is the worst run state in America and how important it is to make the Illinois economy boom again, and they believe Bruce is the best candidate to get the job done."

Although he's running a national campaign, Schrimpf said "Bruce is only interested being governor and bringing back Illinois."

Cosgrove opposition

Terry Cosgrove, who cut his political teeth long ago as a leader of the Gay Illini group on the University of Illinois campus, was the target of some heated rhetoric last week on the floor of the Illinois Senate.

Cosgrove, the president and CEO of the pro-choice Personal PAC political action committee in Chicago, was up for reappointment to his $46,960 a year position on the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

He won reappointment on a 36-30 roll call, with no Republicans supporting the appointment and only two Democrats (southern Illinois senators Gary Forby and William Haine) voting no. All area senators voted no, except Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign.

But the vote came after Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Barrington, delivered a blistering attack on Cosgrove, calling him "unethical and immoral" and a liar.

"Besides being on the Human Rights Commission, he will not leave the Personal PAC, the PAC that he's set up and where he's worked since 1989. So he's been conducting this unethical and immoral behavior, according to himself and his own testimony, since 1989," Duffy said. "He is also a highly paid lobbyist and he's worked as a lobbyist for decades with Personal PAC. As you all know it's against our ethics code in the state of Illinois to appoint anybody to a board who has been a paid lobbyist. Now Terry Cosgrove will tell you that he's not actually a paid lobbyist."

Duffy also said that Cosgrove lists himself as a political independent but has voted in only one Republican primary election in the last 25 years.

World Series bet

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said he has placed a bet with Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., on the outcome of the World Series. Davis, an Atlanta Braves fan, is backing the Cardinals and has put up St. Louis style pizza versus clam chowder offered by Kennedy, a Red Sox backer.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at

Sections (2):News, Local
Tags (1):2014 election

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Sid Saltfork wrote on October 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Are Illinois campaign contributions restricted to the U.S. only?  Can a foriegn corporation, or individual donate?