Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Rauner Calls on Rivals to Disavow Unions “Hijacking” Election

Says unions trying to pick the GOP nominee for governor easiest to beat in November.

Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Bruce Rauner

    Saying that his party’s rivals in the race for governor are silent on an effort by Democrats and unions to “subvert” the Republican primary, Bruce Rauner’s campaign is blasting his fellow GOP candidates for not speaking out.

    In a press release Monday, the Rauner campaign says their candidate’s main rivals—state senators Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady, along with state treasurer Dan Rutherford—are essentially condoning what Rauner says are “tricks, games and campaign schemes” by Pat Quinn, the Democratic Party and labor union allies to influence the GOP primary.

    From the release:

    It has been widely reported in news outlets including the Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times and Capitol Fax that Pat Quinn's Democratic Party and labor union allies  - a coalition that has invested $10 million in Quinn’s political career - are threatening to spend millions of dollars in this year’s Republican Primary trying to pick the GOP nominee for governor who they think will be easiest to beat in November.

    In the release, Rauner campaign manager Chip Englander got even more specific:

    “Republican primary voters deserve to know whether Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, and Dan Rutherford are working together with Pat Quinn and his allies to try to hijack the Republican primary,” said Chip Englander, campaign manager for Bruce Rauner. “Will they side with grassroots Illinois Republicans who want to choose our party's nominee, or will they side with Pat Quinn's efforts to attack Bruce Rauner?”

    Rauner, a wealthy Winnetka businessman, has long made attacking “union bosses” and special interests a centerpiece of his campaign. And, in many ways, he’s right: many union allies have indicated they plan on spending heavily to defeat Rauner in the March primary, seeing how he has attacked specific unions, such as the Chicago Teachers Union, and opposed many policies union members support.

    As well, Gov. Quinn has long relied on union support, a strategy that has not exactly failed him of late:

    In December, Quinn hauled in more than $450,000 from political funds affiliated with national unions based in Washington, D.C., or Maryland: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($150,000); the United Association, a labor union of plumbers and pipe fitters ($100,000); the International Union of Painters and Affiliated Trades ($100,000); and the Laborers' International Union of North America ($130,600).

    However, the Tribune analysis also showed the race was essentially coming down to “organized labor versus Chicago's corporate elite”, at least when it comes to fundraising.

    Rauner, a former chairman of Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR, has cultivated his top donors through longtime friendships as well as business deals and his advocacy for charter schools.

    Those who have donated $100,000 or more to Rauner include billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin ($250,000); billionaire Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto, who said he met Rauner in the 1980s when he briefly worked at Golder Thoma & Co., now GTCR ($105,300); Edgar "Ned" Jannotta Jr., [and more].

    If anything, it would seem the calls to keep outside, big-money influences out of the GOP primary could go both ways.