Millionaire Bruce Rauner, who made his fortune as managing partner of private equity firm GTCR, is forming an exploratory committee to ask his similarly-rich friends whether the ego-boost of running for political office is worth squandering a significant part of that fortune on a vanity campaign for governor. Today, Rauner released this press release:
After spending several months talking with local and national leaders in business, education reform, and politics, and crisscrossing the state attending Lincoln Day Dinners and other events, Rauner is now entering a more intense period of consideration of a potential candidacy. For the next 60 days, Rauner will significantly increase his events and meetings, while looking to make a final determination on a candidacy well in advance of the March, 2014 primary election.
Rauner commented: “I was born and raised in Illinois. I’ve raised my family and grown businesses here. And I love our state. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking to see the mess we’re in. Near the bottom in the nation in unemployment and tax rates. Worst in the country in debt and credit ratings. Rampant corruption in government. Failing schools and violent crime that destroy the future of too many of our children. We need major changes in the way we tax and spend, the way we treat businesses and workers, the way we deal with our state budget and pensions, and the way we run our schools. The political class in Springfield are either unwilling to, or incapable of, making the kind of changes we need. That’s why I’m considering running for Governor.”
I’m sure Rauner is encouraged by the recent success of fellow Republicans such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, political neophytes who used their money and/or fame to start near the top. But this is Illinois, where political machines organize to give their members an edge over wealthy candidates.
I did a little research, and the only Illinois governor I could find who had never held previous political office -- judge, U.S. attorney, legislator, ambassador -- was Daniel Walker, whose career was quickly destroyed by the much wilier Richard J. Daley. And Walker had at least served as an aide to Gov. Adlai Stevenson.
I’m sure Rauner can buy a lot of ads, but the game he wants to play is not for amateurs.