Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Quinn vs. Rauner: Grading Brazen Tactics of Illinois Governor Race

Who's winning: the embattled Democrat incumbent or his Republican rival?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    While Bruce Rauner ups the ante on attacks against Pat Quinn, the Illinois governor is on the defense as he fends off his Republican rival's relentless allegations of corruption, cronyism and carrying on the tainted legacy of the Blago era.

    Rauner's campaign dispatches a new anti-Quinn statement -- or fist-waving call to action -- seemingly every second. Somewhere -- right now -- the maybe-billionaire businessman is speaking into a megaphone to a crowd of supporters, journalists or nobody in particular to slam the Democratic governor as the absolute worst.

    With all due respect, Mr. Rauner, do you ever rest?

    Let's grade the latest round of mud-slinging between Rauner and Quinn, whose camp is responding with some brazen tactics of its own:

    Dueling campaign videos. Quinn released a clip Thursday deriding his competitor as an out-of-touch rich person who hates children and wants young people to fail at life. A male narrator speaks in a cloying, faux-sympathetic voice over depressing background music and stills of empty school hallways, overcrowded classrooms and vacant soccer fields. Meanwhile, Rauner's team one-upped Quinn's efforts with three highly effective testimonials from people of color who back the GOP candidate, including self-professed Democrat/former CPS principal Lula Ford and Manny Sanchez, who co-chaired Latinos for Obama. Quoth Sanchez: "I absolutely think that Bruce Rauner would be the right and the perfect and the optimal candidate for Democrats, for Independents and for Republicans."

    Quinn: D+ for mediocre hatchet job

    Rauner: A for pulling off successful strategy to woo Democrats

    ____

    Low-hanging fruit. Whenever Rauner wants to hit Quinn where it hurts, he takes the easy route: comparing the beleaguered governor to his imprisoned predecessor, Rod Blagojevich. This tactic was especially useful this week, when news broke of a criminal investigation and federal inquiry into Quinn's failed anti-violence program in addition to a separate probe of patronage hiring in the Department of Transportation. Piggybacking on the scandals, Rauner dismissed Quinn as "fundamentally corrupt" and launched a "Pat Quinn Corruption Hotline." (Capitol Fax's Rich Miller reports that Rauner might have stolen the latter tactic from a previous Quinn whistle-blower project.) The same day (855)-PAT-TIPS began soliciting dirt on Quinn, the incumbent harkened back to favorite election-time issue: ending poor treatment of dogs. He announced support for legislation banning "puppy mill" sales in Illinois pet stores and cited a commitment to enforcing humane treatment of animals across the state. It was an echo of Quinn's 2010 attack ad slamming then-GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady for his endorsement of a bill that would mass euthanize sheltered dogs and cats. At the time, Quinn called being friendly to dogs "a pretty good way to win an election."

    Quinn: A because ... dogs

    Rauner: B because ... Blago is a crook

    ____

    Average Joe appeal.  Rauner, desperate to shed his private-equity past, multi-million-dollar fortune and ownership of seven lavish homes, describes himself on Twitter as an all-American dad who loves his family, Illinois, fishing, his Labrador retrievers and "riding my Harley." No suits for Rauner! He prefers plaid shirts. He wears an $18 watch.  Also: his wife is a so-called Democrat, which means he can overlook political differences and get along with the other side, right? Looking into Diana Rauner's record of campaign donations, the Chicago Tribune reported she has contributed mainly to Republican candidates. Oh, that. (You're not fooling anybody, Bruce.) As for Quinn, he doesn't have to work hard to play Joe Average, but he does need a lifeline from all the hits he's taking of late. Under duress, his campaign has deployed excessive use of the "B" word and compared Rauner to Mr. Burns.

    Quinn: C for being an allegedly corrupt Everyman

    Rauner: C for pretending to be an Everyman

    ____

    Composite Score: 

    Quinn: C+

    Rauner: B

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