In the governor’s race, Illinois’ millionaires are uniting behind one of their own: Bruce Rauner.
Rauner now has the endorsement – and the resources – of Ron Gidwitz, the state Republican Party’s number one fundraiser. Four years ago, Gidwitz supported state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who is not a millionaire.
(Gidwitz loaned Dillard $200,000 for his losing campaign. Dillard still hasn’t paid him back.) This time, Gidwitz will serve as Rauner’s Finance Chair.
“Bruce will energize Republicans and appeal to reform-minded Independents and Democrats because he knows we can cut government spending, create jobs, and take on a broken system in Springfield currently dominated by special interests,” Rauner said in a statement.
Capitol Fax called Gidwitz’s decision a “huge blow to Kirk Dillard’s campaign,” while Crain’s Chicago Business says it’s a sign the Chicago business community is uniting behind Rauner.
Rauner also received $1,000 from Jimmy John Liautaud, founder of Jimmy John’s Sandwiches. Liautaud has contributed $131,000 to state Treasurer Dan Rutherford over the years, so this defection is a blow to Rutherford’s campaign for governor. Liautaud is the millionaire who threatened to move to Florida after Illinois raised its income tax to 5 percent. The Illinois State Board of Elections lists him as living in a Streeterville high rise.
Illinois, which tends to reward candidates who plod their way to the top through party machines and lower offices, has never elected a self-made rich guy as governor. However, many politicians have become wealthy after winning high office. In the 1920s, Len Small allegedly embezzled $600,000 as state treasurer – much more than a million in today’s dollars. After Secretary of State Paul Powell died in 1970, executors searching his Springfield hotel room found $800,000 in cash – also more than a million today. Although the Secretary of State’s job paid $30,000 a year, Powell’s estate was valued at $4.6 million. In Illinois, you’re supposed to run for office, then get rich, not the other way around. Rauner, who’s already a millionaire, is trying to take away an opportunity for a hard-working career politician to get rich, too.