WINNETKA, IL - MARCH 18: Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Bruce Rauner gives the thumbs-up after casting his ballot in the Illinois primary election on March 18, 2014 in Winnetka, Illinois. Rauner, a private equity manager, faces off against State Senator Bill Brady, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and State Senator Kirk Dillard in the Republican primary. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
A lot of folks fear the wrath of famously combative Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- that's well-known -- but one of them is not Gov. Pat Quinn's Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner.
The veteran private-equity investor, who also happens to be an Emanuel vacation buddy, former business associate and sometime donor, became public political frenemy du jour on Tuesday night when the mayor issued a blistering statement in response to Camp Rauner's use of robo-calls urging Chicago voters not to support the Democratic mayor's plan to raise property taxes by $250 million and rescue two insufficiently funded pensions for city workers and retirees.
"Bruce Rauner hasn’t even gotten to Springfield, and he’s already acting like a career politician who plays politics with people’s pensions and livelihood," Emanuel's spokesperson said in the statement. "This pension reform bill currently awaiting the governor’s signature will bring financial security to 60,000 hardworking people and provides more savings through reform than a plan proposed by Mr. Rauner just a few years ago."
"The people of Chicago don’t need more rhetoric or gimmicks, they need a plan that will give our workers and retirees financial certainty and that will put our city finances in order for the long-term," the missive continued.
Meanwhile, Quinn -- whom Rauner, in his robo-call, said "won't say where he stands" on the property tax hike -- responded in kind, blasting the GOP gubernatorial hopeful as a hypocrite who wants to raise property taxes state-wide. (Quinn, for his part, previously asserted that the pension proposal's language be finessed to clarify that the proposed increase is Emanuel's baby, not his. And he's expressed disapproval on the plan, stating earlier this month: "Chicago has to address its own situation when it comes to pension reform, but I think they need to be a whole lot more creative than I've seen so far.")
While Emanuel has publicly endorsed Quinn for reelection, the Mayor's personal and professional ties to Rauner have prompted speculation that, privately, he would prefer his Republican friend to unseat his Democratic colleague as governor. (Some people think an Emanuel-Rauner alliance might even be good for the state.)
Rauner might have gone too far this time, putting his political ambitions at risk.
In making Quinn look like the bad guy, and undermining Emanuel in the process, he's shown a willingness to play dirty to win votes -- even if that means alienating a powerful pal. A powerful pal who fights fire with fire.
From Springfield to City Hall to Rauner's campaign, all's fair in friendship and war.