COMMENTARY | Politico is reporting that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is in danger of losing his office this November, thanks to the state’s anemic economic condition and an unpopular tax increase. He will likely face moderate billionaire Bruce Rauner.
Illinois is a deep blue state known for its high spending/high taxation approach to governance as well as its rampant corruption; it was the home state of Rod Blagojevich. It is also the state where Barack Obama made his political bones. Electing a GOP governor in 2014 would be an epic repudiation.
Rauner is being accused by his opponents of being an Illinois Mitt Romney. But a quick look at his campaign website suggests that he aspires to be Illinois’ Scott Walker. Besides cutting taxes and government waste, a great deal of his agenda concerns curbing the power of unions, especially the public sector kind, to loot the state treasury. He even suggests that local communities enact “right to work” zones, in effect opening them up to nonunion businesses.
The prospects of a reformist outsider politician in a state riddled with incompetent and corrupt governance would appeal to be good. To be sure Quinn, despite the fact that he has been a poor governor, is said to still be a cunning politician and could still pull out a victory if Rauner, should he win the nomination, makes some missteps. Illinois remains a liberal state where its favorite son, President Obama, is slightly more popular than in most of the rest of the country.
Rauner, should he be elected, would also likely face an Illinois state legislature that is dominated by Democrats. It is unlikely that will change substantially, even if he sweeps into office with long coattails. Rauner would have to find ways to work with or work around Democrats to get his reform agenda passed.