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Kadner: Rauner uses big bucks to swing an ad hammer

The Tinley Park Chamber Commerce Thursday held forum that
included Republican candidates for governor. From left Phil Kadner
SouthtownStar columnist event moderator;

The Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce on Thursday held a forum that included Republican candidates for governor. From left, Phil Kadner, SouthtownStar columnist and event moderator; chamber President Tom Maloney; state Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington); state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale); Bruce Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media.

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Updated: January 11, 2014 6:19AM



Bruce Rauner, the really rich Republican candidate for governor, has released two new campaign commercials.

In one, simply titled “Hammer,” Rauner picks a hammer up off a table, examines it for a couple of seconds, then reaches below table-top level.

He comes up with a sledge hammer, examines it for heft, slings it over his shoulder, smiles and walks away without saying a word.

The voice over message: “Bruce Rauner, he’ll bring the hammer to Springfield.”

In the second commercial, an image of the state Capitol Building appears, snow is falling and suddenly the image starts shaking back and forth.

As the camera pulls back, you can see Rauner is shaking a snow globe with the Capitol Building inside of it.

“Only one Republican for governor will shake up Springfield ... and shrink state government,” is the voice-over message

According to federal income tax returns, the 57-year-old Rauner recently released, he earned $53 million in 2012. He and his wife, Diana, reported $27 million in earnings in 2010 and $28 million in 2011.

He’s reported to have spent close to $1 million of his own money so far on his gubernatorial campaign and has told people he’s willing to spend a lot more.

One of the questions I am most often asked by readers is, “Why are candidates for office willing to spend so much money for jobs that pay relatively little?”

Well, first off, a lot of them don’t spend their own money. They spend the money people donate to their campaigns.

Why are so many people willing to donate so much money to political campaigns?

If you ask the candidates, they would tell you people want good government.

If that is in fact the goal, a lot of people have wasted a lot of money.

When it comes to guys like Rauner, I don’t have a clue why they want to run for office.

A venture capitalist, Rauner is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The amount of money he’s investing in his political campaign is likely equivalent to what I spend on cable TV each year.

I will confess that more often than not, I would tell you my cable money is wasted. But I like watching TV. And once in a while there’s a program on cable that I really like.

I’m forced to assume that Rauner likes running for public office, although he’s never done so before this campaign.

If I won the lottery and won $100 million, I would not run for governor.

Can’t think of anyone who won the lottery who actually said, “I’m going to take this big fat wad of money and try to get myself elected to something.”

Most of us don’t think like that.

Rich guys are different, which is one reason they’re rich.

I’m going to assume Rauner not only believes he’s more qualified than all the other Republicans running for office (including former Republican nominee Illinois state Sen. Bill Brady, of Bloomington, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale, and state treasurer Dan Rutherford) but thinks he would actually like being the governor.

George Ryan once thought he would like being the governor.

So did Rod Blagojevich.

Pat Quinn must enjoy being the governor a lot because he’s running for re-election, although in recent years Quinn has looked to me like a man in serious need of an antacid.

Being governor means dealing with Mike Madigan, the speaker of the House, who has an uncanny ability to drive governors nutty.

But it also means attending lunches and dinners in every city across the state, making speeches to veterans, students and civic groups, listening to businessmen complain, union leaders scream and legislators tell you why each of their districts need more money.

Every time some board member you appointed screws up, whenever a state official is indicted, if anything of political interest happens anywhere in the U.S., people are going to expect you to say something about it. Say something really dumb and you’ll be on the national news.

If your wife, child or uncle Billy does something stupid, they will likely to be in the national news as well.

Why would that sound enticing to a successful businessman who has enough money to, well, do whatever he wants to do?

Rauner, who fishes and hunts for fun, has got to believe this is something he simply must experience.

Maybe he actually believes he is the only one who can save Illinois from financial devastation.

Recent polls have shown Rauner with a narrow lead in a large field of candidates, getting about one-fourth of the potential Republican vote.

But one of his opponents told me that when pollsters asked registered Republicans if they would vote for a guy who was close friends with Rahm Emanuel, an overwhelmingly majority said, “No.”

Rauner has not only contributed to Emanuel’s mayoral campaign, but they reportedly are fly fishing buddies.

Rauner even hired Emanuel to represent his investment firm in the purchase of a home security company.

Emanuel’s dealings as an investment banker after he left the Clinton White House earned him $18 million in three years.

I don’t know how much that will matter to registered Republicans during next year’s primary, but Rauner’s Republican opponents tell me they will be doing their own commercials about that stuff before the campaign is over.

I do know Rauner’s new commercials made me chuckle, in a good way. His earlier commercial about wearing an $18 watch struck me as silly for a guy who spends millions on vacation homes.

I used to be concerned about candidates who bought elections. Former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., made me rethink that position.

Fitzgerald’s the guy who brought U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to Illinois. That’s probably the best thing any elected official has done for this state.



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