Facing a primary vote later this week, incumbent Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner decided to see how interesting he could make the playing field, once again abandoning his constituents across the state by vetoing a bill that would have required licenses for gun dealers. Last month, the embattled multimillionaire from the state’s bottom end decided he needed to find a way to prove to Chicagoans that he was a candidate to represent those from all walks of life. Then he poured chocolate milk into white milk and took a sip.
Yeah, just when you thought local politics couldn’t get any more out of touch with its constituents, Rauner proved just how far Springfield was from northern Illinois values and understandings with his dairy didactic and subsequent curtsy to the NRA.
To be fair, at this point no one in Illinois expects much from the head of our state government. Having grown up through the years of George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich in the shadow of the Chicago Machine, it would be a stretch to call the terms of endearment frayed at best. Add in the fact that a good deal of animosity has existed between those living north of I-80 and those that inhabit the middle-earth between Chicago and Springfield. It’s a complicated relationship between humble country-types and those that call the city and it’s enduring sprawl home. Included in differences in way of life, makeup of communities and resources available, politics have a very different perspective depending on where in Illinois you call home. Somewhat akin to Donald Trump selling his gilded idealism to poor whites in Mississippi and Alabama, Rauner has similarly courted the dark red down-state communities despite being born in Chicago and raised in upper-middle class suburban Deerfield. His is a case of identity politics realized outside the specter of his own backyard. While he chastises city life and continually prods Mayor Rahm Emanuel over his decision-making, Rauner has been grasping for air like a punch-drunk fighter since positioning for the primary, and his latest gaffes have allowed his shoe ever further down his throat.
Bruce Rauner does not represent Illinois. While far from his biggest missteps since taking office, his basic misunderstanding of how to relate to those he represents paired with a disconnected reality underlined by his veto is indicative of his governance thus far. The current Governor’s race, which kicks off March 20 with primary voting, pits J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss against one another to challenge Rauner from the left while Jeanne Ives is the lone competitor in the primary. Illinois deserves a leader that at least makes an attempt at understanding. Thus far, it’s not clear just which candidate, if any, possess that. What is clear is that it isn’t Bruce Rauner.