Rauner: "I am not in charge"

Ives makes primary challenge official

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Governor Bruce Rauner is asking voters to reelect him to an office he feels doesn't give him enough power to enact his political agenda. 

"I am not in charge. I'm trying to get to be in charge," an animated Rauner explained to reporters at the annual Farm Bureau meeting in Chicago's historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel.  

"I wish I had [been in charge the last three years], he said. "We would have our problems fixed. Illinois would be on a great future." 

Before he can "get to be in charge," he'll have to defend his office against the insurgent Representative Jeanne Ives, a West Point graduate and Wheaton Republican who paints him as an ineffective state executive, lukewarm to President Trump and a traitor to conservative values. 

"He's betrayed our party, and you know what, you cannot buy back trust after a betrayal," Ives said as she prepared to file her petitions to land on the ballot ahead of the March primary contest. Ives has launched her campaign in loud protest to Rauner's passage of laws to expand access to abortion and protections for undocumented immigrants. 

"That's baloney," he chuckled. "Political attacks are a part of the process. We're just going to stay very focused on what we need to get done," he said and dismissed Ives as an unelectable "fringe" outsider. 

"That's ridiculous. That's great. That's okay. Fine," Ives retorted. "We're happy to debate him at any time on any topic." 

Asked repeatedly if he would commit to debating Ives, Rauner dodged and pivoted to attack his political arch nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat. 

"The issue is the system is broken. We've been a state controlled by one person - one person - for 35 years and until that changes, we don't have a good future."

Madigan was elected to the state legislature 46 years ago before his 1981 election as Speaker of the House. He has filled that role for all but one two-year term since when Republicans briefly took control of the House of Representatives.

A reporter asked Rauner, "How long will you continue to blame Mike Madigan for the state's problems?" 

"Till he's gone," Rauner quickly shot back, drawing applause from a crowd of farmers and agriculture workers left over from the morning's event. 

"He's been in charge for 35 years. The guy's become a millionaire off of high property taxes in this state. It's not a coincidence we have the worst property taxes in America. He's become a millionaire by making them high and having a tax appeal law firm on the side." 

Madigan does reap a sizable profit appealing property taxes to the Cook County Assessor and other assessors around the state, but has long maintained all of his legal work is done within the confines of state law. In 2017 alone, several local governments voted on their own, without any help from Madigan, to increase their property taxes, sometimes with broad public support in a referendum. 

Rauner's primary challenger says the governor isn't telling the whole truth about the limitations of his executive powers. 

"Our governorship is a very strong position," Ives said Monday afternoon. "We have one of the strongest governorship positions because you can veto in several different ways, you run the executive branch, you have access to all sorts of... you have a bully pulpit to get policy through.

"While Mike Madigan runs the Illinois House," Ives said, "the truth is there were a number of bills that were signed by Governor Rauner that he did not have to sign." 

Still, Ives acknowledged her own role in Springfield has largely been to play spoiler. 

"My best work is actually getting traction on killing legislation that is bad, not necessarily passing legislation bad [sic], which is what my role is as a member of both first the super minority (2013-2016) and then the minority (2017-present). 

After five years in office, Ives has seen just five of her 134 bills become law, according to the Illinois General Assembly records. 


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