I want to thank all of my readers who insisted I cover this more than fascinating story, though I get the feeling I wouldn’t have survived had I chosen poorly in this regard. But the truth is, I really didn’t need any “encouragement” at all.
I’m sure you already know the score, but in deference to all those former Sun-Times editors who claimed my tragic flaw was failing to provide enough background information, let’s review!
Shortly after squeaking by the conspicuously loony Jeanne Ives in the GOP gubernatorial primary, seeing the electoral handwriting on the wall, Governor Bruce Rauner did his damndest to recruit a pinch hitter to take on J. B. Pritzker in the finals.
He propositioned former State Senator Karen McConnaughay, Attorney General candidate Erika Harold, Cubs co-owner Tom Ricketts, and a player to be named later, explaining, “I’ll step aside, I’ll give you huge financial resources, you run for governor, I’ll support you. You have as good or better chance to get elected than me.”
And all of Illinois Republicandom’s heads summarily exploded upon hearing this revelation. “Why the scurrilous cad,” they cursed, “He tricked us! He was never in it to win it! And to think he thought he could simply anoint his successor? The nerve of that man!”
As far as the GOP rabble goes, I have absolutely no sympathy. They got exactly the governor for whom they voted. I’m far more concerned with Rauner’s poor choice of stand ins. McConnaughay’s vast union ties would’ve doomed her, Harold never has, and never will, win an election, and though Ricketts certainly had a better shot than Rauner did, he still would’ve lost by 8 points.
Sensing the impending anti-Trump backlash, each potential proxy quickly shot him down, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, Pritzker breezed to a 16-point victory.
But despite all that Republican shrieking and howling, it really wasn’t a bad idea. I can count the number of politicians who understand the concept of cutting their losses on one hand. Had Rauner regularly resorted to that kind of prudent prognostication during his Springfield tenure, he might still be Governor.
So, I have absolutely no problem with Rauner’s attempt to abandon his sinking campaign ship. What frosts my cookies is yet another Daily Herald attempt to make former Kane County Chairman, Karen McConnaughay out to be the hero.
“It was not the kind of conversation you could take seriously, because he had not contemplated the process of how any of that would work,” McConnaughay said, “To replace a sitting person on the ballot is the work of the party, not a hand-picked choice. I was flattered that he thought of me, but there’s a whole process to this, and I told him to do careful consideration to all of that before you have conversations with people about replacing him on the ballot.”
Doesn’t that woman ever get tired of being wrong?
If the Governor had gone to the State Central Republican Committee with this proposition, they would’ve leapt at it. They knew he couldn’t win, and they knew he’d torpedo he rest of the ticket, too. The offer to throw millions at his hand-picked replacement would’ve had ’em dancing around the block naked.
And Ms. McConnaughay damn well knows it, and so does the Daily Herald, but they’ve always treated the former Chairman with kid gloves because she consistently batted her eyelashes at and played nice with those eminently fragile editors.
In 12.5 years of journalistic effort, I have never directly covered a more corrupt politician. Never! With then Beacon-New reporter, Dan Campana, doing most of the digging, we discovered she “cajoled” campaign contributions from 80 percent of county vendors amassing an almost $400,000 campaign war chest before Chris Lauzen and I chased her out of Kane County.
She may not have invented pay-to-play, but she certainly perfected it.
Need proof? Let’s go back to that fateful conversation with those Grand Victoria riverboat folks who were trying to secure state funding for a permanent Elgin concert venue. Our former State Senator basically said that kind of assistance required at least a $100,000 contribution.
Even Kane County Board member, McConnaughay lackey, and general bleep, Mike Kenyon, who was sitting right next to her, winced when he heard her utter those words. I could go on, but we don’t have nearly enough time to cover it all.
Meanwhile, Chairman Chris Lauzen is one of the least corrupt politicians I’ve ever covered, but the Daily Herald’s simmering animosity toward him is so great, they endorsed Delnor tragedy progenitor Don Kramer over Ron Hain for Sheriff, because they incorrectly believed Lauzen was behind Hain’s candidacy.
I’d ask that paper if they have any shame whatsoever, but we both know the answer to that question, don’t we?
McConnaughay told ABC news that “Rauner’s tactic was similar to his style of governing:”
“He tried to end his career as governor the same way he got into it – always this idea he would strong-arm it,” she said. “He never respected the fact that there’s a process to governing. Never accepted responsibility for mistakes he made, it was always Madigan’s or someone else’s fault.”
This from the woman who turned beet red as she regularly screamed at recalcitrant board members, has never admitted she’s been wrong about anything, and installed a state-of-the-art Building A camera system that allowed her to observe which staffers had the temerity to talk to other staffers.
If Ms. McConnaughay thought she had any gubernatorial shot, she would’ve jumped in Rauner’s lap faster that Kim Kardashian could snatch a dollar bill from your hand. Then she would’ve extolled Rauner’s vast virtue in stepping aside to anyone who would listen. And the Central Committee would’ve nominated her, too!
The only bright spot in this sad tale of political incompetence was watching the Sun-Times get her last name right, and then misspell it a number of times in the same column.
And Illinois Republicans have the nerve to wonder why they can’t get elected.