Rauner begins anti-Madigan TV campaign

By Rick Pearson, Kim Geiger, John Byrne | Chicago Tribune

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner launched TV ads Tuesday warning that Illinois is at a “crossroads” and attacking veteran House Speaker Michael Madigan and other Democrats for wanting to raise taxes.

“Change in Springfield isn’t easy. But you didn’t send me here to do what’s easy. With your help, I’m going to keep fighting to grow our economy, and fix our broken state government,” Rauner says in the 30-second ad that began airing in the Chicago market.

Rauner’s broadside against Madigan comes as Illinois lawmakers return to the Capitol on Tuesday as part of an extended session amid a stalemate. Rauner is tying his pro-business, anti-union agenda to a deal on the state budget. The governor is seeking leverage against Democrats ahead of the July 1 start of the new Illinois fiscal year.


Madigan has labeled Rauner’s demands “extreme” and has repeatedly criticized the governor for attaching “non-budget issues” to the budget process. On Tuesday, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown reiterated that point when asked to respond to the ad.

“The speaker thought it was just another non-budget issue,” Brown said. “It shows the governor operating in the extreme.”

Brown said Madigan would “continue to work with the governor in a professional and cooperative manner.”

The new ad is funded by the Rauner-created Turnaround Illinois political action committee, a $4.25 million fund with $4 million in donations from real-estate investor Sam Zell, the the former chief executive of Tribune Co., and $250,000 from Rauner.

It starts in black and white as a narrator criticizes Madigan and others in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.

“Illinois is at a crossroads,” the narrator begins.

“Mike Madigan and the politicians he controls refuse to change. They’re saying ‘no’ to spending discipline, ‘no’ to job-creating economic reforms, ‘no’ to term limits. All they want is higher taxes — again,” the narrator says.

The ad then turns to Rauner, in color, delivering his pitch for voters to put pressure on lawmakers to enact what the rookie governor calls his “turnaround agenda.”

Rauner’s agenda includes changes in workers’ compensation rules, limits on lawsuit damages, a freeze on property taxes and plans that would weaken union rights with local municipalities and school districts. Rauner’s changes are opposed by Democrats’ traditional allies: organized labor and trial lawyers.