At today’s candidate forum for Republican governor, wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner gave his critics yet another easy sound bite to hang around his neck:
“Beat Up Brucey”.
In the first forum with all four GOP candidates for governor, the focus was on business and the economy but the spotlight was on Bruce Rauner.
In the wake of more than a week of negative media coverage for Rauner, his three primary election opponents—state senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, along with state treasurer Dan Rutherford—attacked Rauner, and questioned whether he was the best candidate to win back the governor's office for the GOP in more than a decade.
Clearly, Rauner felt the heat, at least a little bit. "It's been a beat-up-Brucey kind of morning," he said.
Social media was quick to jump on the remark. Already on Twitter, the hashtag #beatupbrucey has been created, while multiple news stories about the event are leading with the phrase.
The phrase follows a different, less complimentary moniker already attached to Rauenr by some political insiders and media types:
(W)ags at the Capitol Fax blog have taken to referring to [Bruce Rauner] as “Baron von Carhartt” after the brand of the rugged work jacket he wears in an attempt to look like a regular guy.
Of course, a Twitter account under the same name was soon created, said to be related to the Kirk Dillard campaign.
All of which is a response, at least in part, to Rauner’s attempts at creating a down-home, folksy image that emphasizes $20 watches and casual clothes despite great wealth.
For his part, Rauner insists the negative publicity and attacks by his opponents hasn't changed him or his campaign:
Rauner, skewered recently for his thoughts on minimum wage, referred to himself as a "self-made guy" and said he plans to run Springfield like a business.
"They see me coming," Rauner said. "I'm going to shake up the world."
Clearly, however, some of the sniping from his critics and the media has taken a toll. Crain’s reports Rauner has called in some reinforcements:
Joining Mr. Rauner's communications shop effective next week will be Lance Trover, a longtime veteran of Illinois politics who most recently has worked for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., the state's ranking Republican.
Hopefully, the new communications help knows a thing or two about how to beat back unflattering Twitter accounts.