Following tens of millions of dollars in merciless attack ads, Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner on Thursday emphasized the terms “compassion” and “competitiveness” to describe his vision of Illinois as he unveiled a diverse, bipartisan team to lead his transition into Illinois’ top office.
Holding his first news conference since defeating Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Rauner added no new details to the hallmark campaign positions he took in winning office, including the fate of the state’s temporary income tax hike and his pledge to freeze property taxes.
The Republican urged the Democrat-controlled General Assembly and the outgoing governor not to take any substantial action when lawmakers reconvene for their lame-duck session in Springfield later this month — though an aide to the incoming governor would not work against Democrats’ efforts to increase the minimum wage.
“We have major challenges in Illinois, and we look forward to taking those challenges head-on in a bipartisan basis to solve the many significant challenges that are facing us here today,” Rauner said.
“I am personally committed to making Illinois the most compassionate state in America, and the most competitive state in America,” he said. “I believe very strongly there is an important role for government to help those who are vulnerable, those who are in need, those who need assistance from our society, from our community. In order to do that we need to have a competitive, growing state.”
Compassion was in short supply during the bitter and expensive contest for governor in which Quinn painted Rauner as an uncaring, out-of-touch rich guy, and Rauner labeled Quinn, top Democratic legislative leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties as being part of a “corrupt” state government.
Now, as he’s about to become the first Republican governor in Illinois in a dozen years, Rauner spoke in conciliatory tones amid the realization that he now must work with the Democratic leaders and individual lawmakers he assailed.
Rauner stumbled during his Tuesday night victory speech by telling supporters he told House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton they have “an opportunity for us to work together” when he had not spoken to them. He said Thursday that his staff reached out to aides to both Democratic leaders from Chicago in the hope of meeting together with them.
“I believe we have a mandate based on this election to provide bipartisan solutions,” Rauner said. “For the first time in many years, we have a Republican governor, we have a Democratic legislature, and our mission is not to bicker, it is not to waste time arguing, finding petty faults. But our mission is to serve the people, all the people of Illinois, to provide real solutions, real bottom-line results.”
Aides to Madigan and Cullerton acknowledged that their staffs had discussed a meeting with Rauner and the two leaders, though no date had been set. A Quinn aide also said staff members for the governor and Rauner were in contact about the transition. Rauner said he has not talked to Quinn, though the Republican said he did speak to President Barack Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Rauner named 25 people to his transition team, including former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar and Bill Daley, a former Obama White House chief of staff, U.S. commerce secretary and brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Bill Daley had a brief dalliance with challenging Quinn for the Democratic primary nomination, but in ending his bid in September 2013 said “there’s no doubt in my mind that Pat Quinn will not be the next governor of Illinois.”