The first Republican governor in 12 years, Rauner charged into office vowing to shake up Springfield, but instead has inflicted the state with shaken-government syndrome. Sure, he’s flexed his substantial political muscle. But to whose benefit? He shut down state government to pressure House speaker Mike Madigan (No. 5) and Senate president John Cullerton ([[[No. 35]]]) into passing his full turnaround agenda, a package of probusiness and antiunion measures (and don’t forget term limits) that Democrats can’t stomach.
Madigan, it’s true, has shown little interest in negotiating. But instead of trying to grind out a deal, the governor turned to the airwaves and launched an unprecedented million-dollar ad buy—funded in part by his billionaire buddy Sam Zell (No. 6)—against the speaker. Such bullying tactics only pushed Madigan farther away from the bargaining table. Rauner has made some other rookie missteps, such as cutting state funding for autism on World Autism Day and declaring, right after the November terrorist attacks in Paris, that Illinois would no longer accept refugees from Syria (even though he lacks that authority).
Rauner’s staunchest supporters praise him for sticking to his principles—and, better yet, sticking it to Madigan. But his unwillingness to compromise in any way, shape, or form has confounded many of his less ideological probusiness allies, who expected the former private equity hotshot to be more pragmatic and right Illinois’s fiscal ship, not capsize state government. “Enough already, Bruce,” the Crain’s editorial board admonished him in October.