Ever since Gov. Bruce Rauner’s big staff shakeup back in July, there’s been speculation he isn’t going to run for re-election in 2018.
That talk resumed last week when Rauner outraged the conservative wing of the Republican Party by signing legislation to protect and expand abortion rights after promising he wouldn’t.
The thinking is the governor wouldn’t have dared antagonize the GOP base, nor shoved aside his political team, if he planned on running again.
As eager as I am for the day when Rauner and his money exit the Illinois political scene, those who believe it’s going to be that easy to get rid of him are kidding themselves.
I don’t claim to have any super secret inside sources who know for a fact that Rauner has decided to seek a second term.
All I can judge by is my own experience and observation, as well as talking with others who have either more experience or a better vantage point.
And I just don’t see the man quitting, certainly not at this point when his time in public office would likely be portrayed as a failure. Nor have I found anyone to disagree with that assessment.
I’d argue it’s not in Rauner’s nature to step aside, although when you really think about it, there’s hardly ever a politician who, by nature, is satisfied with one term and done.
Their egos won’t allow it, which is not a comment on Rauner’s considerable sense of self, rather a comment on those who seek public office as a group. It takes a lot of ego to put oneself in that line of fire.
The campaign ahead will be rough, but in his four years on the political scene, the Republican governor has proven himself to be somebody who doesn’t back away from a good political fight.
Rather, he seems to relish the fighting, even the retail campaigning, originally deemed his weak point as a candidate.
And as vulnerable as Rauner has made himself during three years of meltdown in state government, he’s not yet beaten.
The re-election campaign Rauner would run is no secret.
As he has for the past four years, Rauner is going to campaign against what he will portray as the corrupt Illinois political establishment — personified by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan — that has blocked him from accomplishing his goals.
He’s going to ask voters for the sake of the future of Illinois to allow him to finish the job that he’s started.
And Rauner will spend his millions to savage his to-be-determined Democratic opponent in campaign ads until voters are nearly as sick of that candidate as they are of him.
After that, it will be a matter of whether enough Illinois Democrats understand their best chance to strike a blow against President Donald Trump is to come out and vote in the mid-term elections.
Rauner is circulating nominating petitions, but has made no formal announcement about re-election.
There are those who argue the businessman in Rauner will look at his re-election chances and the tens of millions of his personal wealth that he’s expended to date and decide it’s a bad investment to double that.
But the wealthy businessman has said from the start that he made an eight-year commitment to politics because he believed it would take that long to turn Illinois around. And I don’t believe for a moment that we’ve seen the outside limit of what he’s willing to spend to achieve his goal.
Rauner may not have managed to turn around Illinois as he’d planned, but at this point, there’s no evidence that Illinois has turned around Rauner either.