Illinois Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner says he and President Obama run in the same social circles.
The Republican businessman, a former managing partner at the Chicago private equity firm GTCR, tells the Trib that he and Obama crossed paths when the president was a state senator on the rise. According to Rauner the two share several friends including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Dunchan, Commerce Secretary/billionaire heiress Penny Pritzker, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and close Obama pal Marty Nesbitt, who runs the president's namesake foundation.
Another high-profile mutual friend is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who learned from Rauner the art of making gobs of money in a short amount of time.
Rauner is one of five incoming state governors scheduled to meet Obama in the Oval Office late Friday afternoon to discuss economic issues. Also on the invite list: Greg Abbott (Texas); Tom Wolf (Pennsylvania); Charlie Baker (Massachussetts), and Maryland's Larry Hogan.
In the first leg of his two-day DC trip, Rauner mingled Thursday with Illinois lawmakers on both sides of the aisle including Sen. Dick Durbin, a long-serving Democrat, and rising-star Republican Rep. Aaron Schock, who's on Rauner's transition team.
Will his shared history and connections to Obama ease any residual tension that may surface during Friday's meet-and-greet? The president, after all, led a big push to elect soon-to-depart Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn over Rauner in the midterms.
POTUS has bigger fish to fry. But I'm curious to view the dynamic between the two powerful Illinoisians, one leaving the White House in 2016 and the other on a hard-charging mission to "shake up Springfield" (and potentially launch a bid for the White House someday).