When Gov. Bruce Rauner tapped former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle to join his administration last year, he heralded the trailblazing Hawaiian as “a superstar governor” who would help him bring about the “biggest turnaround in America today.”
But on Friday, one day after Rauner signed a six-month stopgap state budget that included none of his signature “Turnaround Agenda” reforms, the Republican governor announced that Lingle was resigning her post as chief operating officer.
“I thank Linda Lingle for her service to the people of Illinois,” Rauner said in a statement. “Linda made a commitment to help us with our transformation efforts, and she has done a great job of helping to move our state in a new, positive direction. Diana and I wish her nothing but the best in all of her future endeavors.”
Lingle was the highest-profile member of the “Turnaround team” that Rauner announced days after his inauguration in January of 2015.
The team also included newly named chief financial officer Donna Arduin and Deputy Gov. Trey Childress.
But it was Lingle, the first woman to serve as governor of Hawaii and the first of Jewish ancestry, whom Rauner singled out that day.
“We’ve got a former governor,” Rauner said. “She was a superstar governor for eight years and led a major turnaround. She’s ready and coming to do similar things here.”
Lingle was born in St. Louis but moved to Hawaii in 1975. She was elected governor of Hawaii in 2002 and re-elected in 2006 with the largest victory margin in state history.
The governor’s office offered no explanation for Lingle’s resignation but included quotes from her in the release.
“I want to thank Governor Rauner for the opportunity to serve the people of Illinois,” Lingle said. “I believe in the work Governor Rauner is doing to turn around the State of Illinois and am honored to have served in his administration working toward transforming government operations.”
Arduin quit her job last year. Childress will succeed Lingle as chief operating officer, Rauner’s administration announced.