Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Rauner Finds an Opportunity to Move Up in "Most Detested Governors" Race.

Rauner Finds Chances to Move Up in Most “Detested Governor” Race?

“Ding Dong, Chris Christie’s gone”; and suddenly the most disliked Governor in the United States ploddingly exits stage right only to leave disruption and angling for the remaining Republican Governors to jostle and elbow their way into the significantly large breach. 

Favorites to earn the most despised position, like Snyder of Michigan (51% unfavorable rating) and Walker from Wisconsin (53% unfavorable rating) are revving their engines, battling unions, minimizing wages, and stymying various efforts to provide equal rights. 

And, when I remark “favorites,” I am of course identifying the kind of Governors that Bruce Rauner emulates in commercials as the conqueror he has yet to become because he is sadly still trying to be “in charge” of the state of Illinois.  He uses the former two (as well as others) to bash Madigan in a commercial promoting the incumbent Governor's reprised run for office. 

The other governor in Rauner’s commercial taunting Mike Madigan was Republican Missouri Governor Eric Greitin, who was later accused of blackmailing a woman with whom he’d had an extra-marital affair.  Rauner’s political ad was quietly pulled from airing shortly thereafter.

As you guessed, it has not been a stellar couple months for Governor Rauner.  But – not to worry – it got worse on Tuesday.

According to the Chicago Tribune and other political pundits, Illinois Policy Institute/Representative Jeanne Ives dispatched Bruce Rauner effectively and unceremoniously a day ago in the wood paneled editorial board room.  Ouch!  And the Illinois Policy Institute was a recipient of so much of Rauner’s monetary largesse as well as hired/fired staff for his Springfield office.

Positioned in 8th place of the most disliked governors in the country -  a poll taken in 2017/see below), Christie’s departure opens a possibility for Rauner to move up; and (lucky stars, Bruce!) serendipitously another loathed Republican governor is making his way to Washington to serve in the Trump Cabinet.  Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas (66% unfavorable rating) is leaving his infamous position as second most unpopular governor behind Christie to go to Washington.

And Voila, an opportunity appears in the midst of crisis. 

Rauner may have earned a political pedigree for consistent failures and bumbling incompetence mishandling the state budget, but he’ll be hard-pressed to accomplish the kinds of disasters Governor Brownback of Kansas has wrought in poor Kansas. Rauner earned “an epic F” from the Chicago Tribune in leadership this last year.  The National Review declared Rauner probably  the worst governor this fall.  His Turnaround Agenda of nearly 50 items has been whittled unsuccessfully down to five.  His budget battles have left post secondary education institutions in tatters.  He’s found ways to lose his right wing base and job growth rates in Illinois have fallen precipitously. 

Rauner's really bad, but he’ll have to work hard to tarnish the absolute madness that is Sam Brownback.

Case in point: In preparation for his ascension to Trump’s post as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Governor Sam Brownback called for all Kansans to spend today (January 31st) fasting or/and praying.  There’s a lot to unpack here. 

Delusions of grandeur.  Religious righteousness.  Forced asceticism as political purpose.  Or, as Jenee Osterheldt of the Kansas City Star pointed out, “He has mistaken the podium for a pulpit.”

A poll by the same paper found only 3% of Kansans planned on fasting for Brownback Tuesday.  92% will not fast, and one might believe binge instead, taking comfort food in his departure.  4% say they will pray, but I recall my old-country Grandfather’s prayers for his enemies quite well.  It might go something like “Brownback, you rubbish, may you find the bees but never the honey, and may you marry one who blows wind like a stone from a sling.” 

Brownback’s Kansas is possibly a land Rauner might nave clicked his heels together and dreamed about just a few years ago:  an elimination of Medicaid expansion, an executive order to remove protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people, millions of dollars taken from public education funding, the destruction of job security for state workers, limiting wage negotiations by local unions, etc.  Since then, however, Kansas has made a quiet and complete refusal to accept the kind of trickle down and right reformed Koch policies that have left the state decimated. 

So, it appears that Sam Brownback will now get to rub shoulders with another religious ideologue – Vice President Mike Pence – and discuss the terrible dangers of a country beset by alternative religions, equality in unions, and the general blasphemy of inclusiveness. 

Nevertheless, an opening is opportunity, and Bruce Rauner may find himself able to fill that void easily – especially as Ives undercuts him, as Uihlein promotes the position of the IPI and fills Ives’ coffers, as Pritzkers swallows the media time slots, as Madigan is Madigan, and as Rauner blunders about trying to be the leader he never was. 

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