Rauner urged to drive his message home: 'I am on your side'
Illinois' Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner needs to get on TV and in the public eye with a new narrative to win re-election next year, a conservative pundit said during a recent conservative radio talk show.
"I have a different view, I think, than some people have about Gov. Rauner," Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder Pat Hughes said on "Illinois Rising." "I actually think that he can be personally appealing in ads; he can be personally appealing when he's talking to the public. I think he should do more of that."
Rauner needs to remind Illinois voters that he's on their side, state Democrats are not, and harness actions by the state's largest public employees union to his political advantage, Hughes said.
"He should be on television," Hughes said. "He should be doing news conferences. He should be out there every single day saying, 'I am on your side; those guys are not. This was harder than I thought it was going to be because these people are worse than I thought that they were, and we need to stand together and do X, Y and Z, and here's what we've accomplished and here's what we can do.' And he should do that every single day."
Hughes, a Hinsdale attorney and real estate developer, is president of the Liberty Justice Center and co-founder with Dan Proft of the Illinois Opportunity Project. Proft, Liberty Principles PAC chairperson and treasurer, is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Rauner ranked 44th in a recent Morning Consult poll of the nation's 50 governors, although his disapproval rating of 49 percent marked an improvement from 56 percent in September. Rauner ranked better than Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Bill Walker of Arkansas, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Dan Malloy of Connecticutt, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of Jew Jersey.
Ranking at the top of the were Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, in first place with a 75 percent approval rating, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, in second place with 73 percent, both Republican governors in otherwise blue states. Doug Burgun of North Dakota, Phil Scott of Vermont and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
If Rauner continues to rely on his profile of two years ago as the political outsider and reformer, he will play into the hands of the presumed Democrat front-runner, Chris Kennedy, a Chicago businessman, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy.
"Chris Kennedy has the potential to take that right away from him instantly," Hughes said. "And so he's got to build on a different narrative."
Rauner cannot finesse his way to victory this election cycle and he can't expect the lower popularity of Illinois' powerful State House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) or strike threats by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to win it for him, Hughes said.
"His approval is down," Hughes said. "he doesn't have enough accomplishments. He can't hang it on the neck of Madigan because he's not going to run against Madigan. So what he needs to do, instead of finesse, is take one bold position or two bold positions and say, 'I am on your side; property taxes are too high; AFSCME is screwing you,' whatever it is. Get out there and pound it every single day and say, 'We can do this together; those folks are why we're struggling.'"