Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Wealthy Dilettante Bruce Rauner Could Get Elected to the Senate

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Earlier this week, I laid out how tough it will be for millionaire financier Bruce Rauner to get elected governor. Rauner is a political novice, and in the last hundred years, every Illinois governor has held an elective or appointive office before running the state. However, Rauner might have an easier time getting into the Senate. There is a precedent for a wealthy dilettante going straight from private industry to high office: Charles Percy, the Bell & Howell executive elected in 1966. Significantly, Percy ran for the Senate after losing a race for governor. And he defeated a popular liberal Democrat seeking a fourth term in the sixth year of a Democratic presidency -- the same scenario Rauner would face against Dick Durbin next year.

    Here’s a list of our U.S. senators from the last 100 years, and the offices they held before becoming senators:
    Mark Kirk: U.S. representative
    Roland Burris: comptroller, attorney general
    Barack Obama: state senator
    Peter Fitzgerald: state senator
    Dick Durbin: U.S. representative
    Carol Moseley Braun: state representative, Cook County Recorder of Deeds
    Paul Simon: state representative, state senator, lieutenant governor, U.S. representative
    Alan Dixon: state representative, state senator, treasurer, secretary of state
    Adlai Stevenson III: state representative, treasurer
    Ralph Tyler Smith: state representative
    Charles Percy: None
    Everett Dirksen: U.S. representative
    Paul Douglas: Chicago alderman
    Charles Wayland Brooks: None
    James M. Slattery: chairman, Illinois Commerce Commission
    Scott W. Lucas: chairman of the state tax commission, U.S. representative
    William H. Dieterich: Schuyler county judge, state representative, U.S. representative
    J. Hamilton Lewis: U.S. representative
    Charles S. Deneen: state representative
    William B. McKinley: University of Illinois trustee, U.S. representative
    Joseph Medill McCormick: state representative, U.S. representative
    Lawrence Y. Sherman: state representative, lieutenant governor