Rauner ’78 Selects Running Mate in Illinois Gubernatorial Race

Around the country, all eyes are firmly fixed upon the race for the governor’s mansion in Illinois. The current Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, barely won election in 2010 by less than a percentage point or thirty thousand votes. It was the seventh closest gubernatorial election in American history according to well-known publication Politico.  His opponent Bill Brady, an Illinois State Senator, won all but four of Illinois 100+ counties. As the years dragged on, Governor Quinn found himself caught in a morass of difficult decisions including cutting the budget, increasing the personal income tax and the corporate tax rate multiple times to nearly double their original rates, and cutting public union contracts significantly. By December 2012, Governor Quinn saw the Illinois unemployment rate rise to fifth highest in th United States. Consequently, his approval rating has cratered.

The embattled Illinois Governor (D)

In a recent poll, his approval rating as governor had dropped to below 25%. He even faced a competitive primary until recently when Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley dropped out of the race. Yet, his greatest challenge will be in the general where he will face one of four Republicans.

State Senator Bill Brady wants a rematch, but three other Republicans are also jockeying to be at the top of the GOP ticket. They include seasoned politicians State Senator Kirk Dillard and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford as well as a political new-comer: Bruce Rauner.

Bruce Rauner is currently running for the GOP nomination with no previous political experience

Yes, that is the same Rauner who donated the special collections library that so many students pass on their way to classes every day. A son of Dartmouth and a former private equity guru who helped support many state pension funds with outsized returns, Rauner threw his hat into the ring for governor in early June 2013. Although he served as an advisor to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Rauner has largely avoided the realm of politics up until this point.

 Rauner drove this point home with his recent announcment of a running mate this past Wednesday. He chose a first-term member of a city council named Evelyn Sanguinetti, the daughter of immigrant parents from Cuba and Ecuador. She even touted her own credentials as an outsider, saying at a campaign stop: “I’m sure a [under five foot] Latina with an Italian last name is not what the career politicians had expected…I’m not part of a Springfield club, I’m not an insider.”

Bruce Rauner recently announced his running mate, Evelyn Sanguinetti

Rauner has focused his campaign on education reform where he has seen success as a philanthropist in the past as well as the issues of term-limits and the stagnating Illinois economy. While his choice of such a little-known figure may seem odd, it’s important to remember that the Lieutenant Governor of Illinois often has little power or responsibility and often attracts little-known candidates. By choosing someone who complements his strengths, Mr. Rauner keeps himself in the race as well as highlights the anti-corruption message from his television ads.

 

While he currently polls in third place, the primary is fairly divided and over a third of the electorate remains undecided. Mr. Rauner may be able to catapault himself into the general election where he will face a very weak Quinn who trails most of his challengers already in hypothetical polls. If that happens, we may be able to add another name to that of Senator Portman (Ohio – R) as Dartmouth alums who have taken on powerful public service roles to help ease the pain of the Great Recession.

–J.P. Harrington