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Governor, speaker handle stress by two-wheeling it

Gov. Bruce Rauner has his own way of dealing with stress: by jumping onto his Harley. | Maria Cardona/Sun-Times

Let’s talk stress.

They both bike.

Gov. Bruce Rauner straddles a Harley and hits the open road to hidden outposts Downstate.

House Speaker Mike Madigan prefers to keep his bike stationary, exercising in the privacy of his Springfield and Chicago homes.

Illinois is still at a standstill; the state’s two most powerful polar opposite pols are still at odds with each other since July 2015 — the last time we had a full state budget.

So as the new fiscal year deadline (June 30) approaches, Sneed asked the men how they handle the stress of it all.

Here’s how.

“Well, I take long walks with our dog and ride my motorcycle,” Rauner said. “I head out alone and explore roads or find a little park to sit and think. Or a brew pub to strike up conversations.

“It’s really wonderful when people describing themselves as Democrats tell me to stay the course. That I’m doing the right thing,” he said.

“That energizes me and I know it sounds strange, but my wife tells me she hasn’t seen me this happy in 20 years. I feel totally honored and humbled to get the opportunity to improve the future of 13 million people.”

Then there is the story of the big bullfrog that impacted his life and taught him the power of persistence.

“I’m not very patient, but persistence is the key to success in every endeavor — and I learned that one day trying to catch a bullfrog on my grandfather’s farm in Wisconsin,” he said.

“There was a little pond in back of his house with big bullfrogs living in it. So I went out there because I loved catching frogs and salamanders and snakes.

“I spotted a big bullfrog pop up around lunchtime, and I waited all day to catch it. I missed lunch and dinner and most of the day, and finally figured out how to grab him by the legs under the lily pad.

“I just stayed out there and finally came up behind him. I’ll never forget it. It was the biggest day of my life.”

(He ultimately released the bullfrog.)

“I learned then you just had to keep trying. You may fail a lot, but you never give up. If you want to achieve something, you stick with it.

“That’s how I feel about the state.

“It breaks my heart to see what is happening to the people of Illinois. Painful to see our economic system broken. Social service agencies struggling. High unemployment. Neighborhood violence. People who don’t see a future. Disadvantaged kids without a dream.

“It’s is so sad and tragic and keeps me up at night. Sure I feel pain. But this has been going on for years. So I volunteered to try and fix it rather than run away [out of state] like so many Illinoisans have done. I wanted to stay here and fix it.

“So I handle the stress spending time with my best friend, my wife, Diana, who is a Democrat and my pillar of strength. This isn’t about partisanship. It’s about good government. What is hard is all our children now live out of state. Diana cries about that.”

House Speaker Michael Madigan handles stress by getting onto his exercise bike. | Sun-Times files

Lest we forget, how does Madigan handle stress?

“He handles it with . . . experience,” said Steve Brown, Madigan’s spokesman.

“Sure, there’s stress. But he always handles the rigors of the day by exercising on a regular basis. He keeps a stationary bike in his apartment in Springfield, just like he does at home. He has always had a very health-oriented diet. Chicken and fish. That sort of thing.

“Besides that, he does not go into a panic when someone on television lobs criticism at him!”

Play ball!
  Congrats to Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts on the birth of son
Steele Edward, who was born last Friday. Both parents are over the
moon. Imagine the size of the mitt in that baby crib!!! Yay!Sneedlings . . .

Congrats to retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Russell Hartigan, who was installed last weekend as the 141st president of the Illinois State Bar Association. The sold-out event was also attended by former Illinois Attorney General Neil Hartigan, a second cousin. Natch. . . . Today’s birthdays: Zinedine Zidane, 45; Jason Mraz, 40; Randy Jackson, 61, and Secretary of State Jesse White, ageless.