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Rauner and Trump had private ‘positive’ phone conversation

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Donald Trump. | Seth Perlman and Evan Vucci/AP

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner and President-elect Donald Trump shared a private phone call last week described as a “good, positive conversation” — a detail the governor revealed to reporters and business owners in Springfield on Wednesday.

“I’ve had some good conversations with the new administration in Washington because I want to try to figure out if we can work together, because I want Illinois to benefit from the changes coming,” Rauner said at Ruby Electric in Springfield.

“I talked with the president-elect last Friday afternoon. We talked abut working together. It was a good, good, positive conversation. I had never spoken with him before,” Rauner said. “Two of his most senior folks in his administration are good personal friends of mine, and allies of mine in politics, so we’re going to have a voice and good relations.”

Rauner’s administration hasn’t confirmed who those “senior folks” are. But political consultant Nick Ayers ran Rauner’s gubernatorial campaign and also ran Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s campaign. Chip Englander, a consultant who also ran Rauner’s campaign, leads Michael Best Strategies’ Illinois office and is close to Reince Priebus, who will be Trump’s chief of staff. And Ron Gidwitz chaired Rauner’s campaign and fundraising committee. The uber-fundraiser was the Trump Victory Illinois finance chairman.

After months of refusing to discuss Trump or the presidential race, Rauner last Friday finally mentioned Trump’s name and predicted he would be able to work with his administration. But Rauner had little interest in talking about the stunning political upset just days earlier.

As head of the Illinois Republican Party, Rauner has for months said he would support his party’s presidential nominee, but he has steadfastly refused to say more. The post-election statement Rauner released made no mention of the New York billionaire businessman or his historic win.

But on Friday, Rauner said he hoped to develop a “good working relationship” with members of the new administration.