Fresh off State of State, Rauner targets Madigan, Pritzker - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Fresh off State of State, Rauner targets Madigan, Pritzker

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CARBONDALE -- Fresh off his state of the state address, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made a campaign-style stop in Southern Illinois on Thursday morning.

"Southern Illinois has the hardest working people. You guys are the best workforce in America, right here in Southern Illinois," he roared into a microphone before workers gathered on the factory floor at the Com-Pac manufacturing center in Carbondale.

Flanked by area lawmakers from his party, including state Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg; state Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo; state Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro and Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton, Rauner appeared to be in full campaign mode.

After touring the facility and answering a few questions from local reporters, the governor sat down with News 3 for an interview. 

Although Rauner called from more bipartisanship in his speech before lawmakers, he said Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan stands in the way of everything he wants to accomplish --  from term limits to lower property taxes to ending corruption.

"He's really not about the Democratic Party. He's the head of it, but he's really about self-serving," Rauner said. "Speaker Madigan has been in power too long."

Last month, the embattled governor issued an executive order, barring legislators from representing clients before the state property tax appeal board. He also announced Republican lawmakers would introduce a bill to ban legislators from practicing at any assessment appeal board anywhere in the state.

The moves are seen as direct shots at Madigan's main source of income.

Steve Brown, a spokesman for Madigan, noted several other lawmakers, including leading Republicans, would be impacted by Rauner's efforts.

Brown also noted that in Madigan's case, there has never been any finding of him doing anything improper. 

"If they're going to be in the office to raise property taxes and then on the side get rich for processing property taxes, that's a conflict of interest," said Rauner. 

Despite Rauner's calls for Democratic House lawmakers to vote for another leader, Madigan, who has served as speaker for every year except two since 1983, isn't likely to disappear anytime soon.

Given that, what will the governor do differently?

"The one major thing that will be different this year than the prior years is we are going to ignite a revolution. This is a revolution. It's not about Democrats or Republicans. It's about the people against the career political insiders," Rauner said. 

Pressed again on what he personally will do differently in working with the legislature, Rauner promised more one-on-one meetings with individual lawmakers.

"I've been doing it, but I'll do more," said Rauner.

He admits the 2018 election will impact work lawmakers do over the next few months, as they try to craft a budget and tackle other important issues.

Rauner said in a couple of weeks, he'll introduce a balanced budget, which he said he has done the last couple of years. (Note: non-partisan researchers like the Civic Federation dispute that claim.)

"There will be some spending reductions, no questions. We need to make some cuts. We have to," said Rauner, declining to offer specifics.

While he faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Jeanne Ives, whose face-off with the governor before the Chicago Tribune editorial board this week won her rave reviews, Rauner is laser-focused on the candidate he believes he will face this fall.

"The real problem is this guy, [J.B.] Pritzker. He's Madigan's handpicked candidate," said Rauner. "Madigan has tried to clear the field for him. Madigan has rigged the Democratic primary to help Pritzker. They are two peas in a pod out of that machine out of Chicago."

A TV ad from the Rauner campaign, which features an FBI wiretap of conversations between Pritzker and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is airing across the state.

Pritzker was never accused of criminal wrongdoing, but Rauner's ad appears to suggest otherwise.

“It is no surprise this governor would rather attack me than run on his failed record," Pritzker said in response to the ad. "I’m running on real plans to get Illinois back on track by creating jobs, investing in quality education, and expanding healthcare across our state."

The ad may explain why Pritzker's poll numbers fell nine percentage points in a new We Ask America poll released this week.

"That's just the truth. That's just a simple recording from an FBI tape. It's just the truth," Rauner said. 

News 3 asked Rauner what he meant by "the truth."

"You see for yourself. Watch the ad," responded Rauner. "Pritzker is part of that corrupt culture of self-dealing. Personal benefit that hurts the people of Illinois. That's what the truth is."
 

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