Kadner: GOP lacks a superstar for governor

Written By By Phil Kadner pkadner@southtownstar.com Posted: 03/01/2014, 08:36pm

This Republican campaign for Illinois governor is like watching the Chicago Bulls.

Something good may eventually come of it, but only a fanatic can say he’s actually enjoying himself.

The most interesting candidate from the get-go was Bruce Rauner.

He’s just your average Joe who made $53 million last year, and has never before run for public office.

He promised to wage war on government union bosses, House Speaker Michael Madigan and spend lots of his money on campaign commercials.

But who really wants to vote for an average guy, especially when he’s actually very rich. And given his past relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is he really the anti-establishment candidate he claims to be?

Hey, smart businessmen make friends with people who can help them do business all the time. That’s why they always seem to be chummy with the Democrats in Illinois. Those guys are always willing to do business if the price is right.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford has sparked the most chatter in this race, but that’s because of a scandal involving a former employee of his claiming sexual harassment.

The other two Republicans, state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, went up against each other in the Republican primary four years ago.

Brady, who sounded like a guy who wouldn’t compromise his conservative principles back then, ended up voting for the Democratic plan to bail out the state pension funds.

Dillard has been a competent legislator and comes across as the uncle you wouldn’t mind having over for beer and a ballgame.

But I’ve heard Republicans call him a RINO (Republican In Name Only) because he’s willing to work with Democratic lawmakers.

During one campaign stop, when Rauner implied he would never try to work with Madigan, Dillard said the realty is Madigan is likely to be speaker of the House again and the Democrats are likely to control both chambers of the Legislature, so whoever wins the gubernatorial election had better be prepared to work with the enemy.

That didn’t seem to go over well with the audience because, well, voters really don’t want to talk about reality when it comes to elections.

Ronald Reagan, for example, talked about restoring America’s greatness and wasn’t shy about borrowing scenes from old Hollywood movies to express his vision of what that meant.

Sure, he embraced conservative values, but when Jimmy Carter was encouraging people to wear sweaters in their homes to conserve energy, Reagan basically told them to turn up the thermostat in winter and relax.

He exuded confidence in the future. Barack Obama had the same impact on voters during his first run for office.

Talking about sound fiscal policy and cutting budgets is sort of like advocating fundamental defense in the NBA.

It’s necessary, maybe even essential, but not the stuff that inspires the public.

I may watch a Bulls game if they make the playoffs. But I really don’t expect them to win. They lack the superstar.

And that’s what it would take to upset the Democrats in Illinois.

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