Gov. Bruce Rauner made the cover of the conservative National Review — in a scathing critique, dubbing him “the worst Republican governor in America.”
The governor already has been called a vulnerable Republican by Democratic groups seeking to oust him next year.
And some conservative Republicans have become disenchanted over his signing of a bill expanding taxpayer funding of abortion.
But the cover story — complete with unflattering caricature — in the December of National Review, often called the “Bible of American conservatism,” is perhaps the highest level criticism yet of the first-term governor.
The story details what it dubs a “betrayal” — sparked, author John J. Miller writes, by Rauner signing the abortion bill. Rauner in April said he wouldn’t support the measure, but he shocked many, on both sides of the aisle, when he signed it in August. That prompted outrage from many anti-abortion Republicans, who accused the governor of broken promises, betrayal and lies. It also began a war with his former supporters at the conservative think tank, the Illinois Policy Institute — and raised eyebrows in the Catholic community.
“The betrayal capped a season of defeats for conservatives, including an income-tax hike, a big bailout of Chicago’s public schools, and turning Illinois into what critics of illegal immigration are calling a ‘sanctuary state,’” Miller writes.
“This much is clear: Illinois hardly could do worse. It suffers from one of the weakest economies in the nation, with the slowest personal-income growth, low labor-force participation, and distressing levels of manufacturing-job losses.”
The story details everything from Rauner’s victory in 2014, to his work in fighting unions early on in his term. And it also makes light of his dwindling “Turnaround Agenda.”
“He reduced his goals to just five, including a property-tax freeze, tort reform, and term limits. He also announced that he’d trade a tax increase for substantive gains. ‘Take everything else off the table,’ he said,” Miller writes. “The result was a two-year budget deadlock. Rauner failed to achieve any of his major objectives, with the possible exception of breaking the Democrats’ supermajority in the statehouse.”
State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, who says she’s opposing Rauner in the March primary, is quoted in the story. And in a statement, she doubled-down on criticism of the governor.
“Republicans understand that Governor Rauner is unelectable,” Ives said. “He betrayed his party’s values. He broke promises. And lied about his intentions, most notably on a bill that forces taxpayer funding of abortion on demand.”
Ives has until Monday to file petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Rauner faced an unfavorable editorial in the Wall Street Journal in June that called him “Governor Junk.”
Although there are only two references to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan in the National Review article — one calling him “perhaps the most powerful state lawmaker in the country” — Rauner’s campaign chose to focus on the speaker in reacting to the piece.
“We’re glad National Review pointed out that Mike Madigan and his cronies have consistently blocked Governor Rauner’s reform agenda just to protect their own corrupt practices,” campaign spokesman Justin Giorgio said. “Governor Rauner will keep fighting to make a Illinois a better place to live and work for everyone by working to lower property taxes, increasing school choice, and eliminating job-killing regulations.”