Bruce Rauner for Governor. . .

Rauner-Head-Shot2  I have already cast an early vote for Bruce Rauner to become the next Governor of the State of Illinois. I voted for Bruce Rauner because the State of Illinois is in trouble.

The State of Illinois is in economic decline and in need of economic stimulus, which businessman Bruce Rauner can provide, and provide far more effectively than Pat Quinn has demonstrated.

Rauner’s agenda is economically oriented and he runs on the platform of economic development for all of Illinois.

It is time for the people of Illinois to take a look in the mirror and get a dose of reality.  Pat Quinn has not served us well for six years. Four more years of Quinn is an unaffordable disaster, when our futures and the futures of our children and our communities are at stake.

For the African-American community, which has consistently produced loyal voters for Quinn, his record is shameful and disrespectful. After six years of Quinn, African-American unemployment is too high, there has been little-to-no economic development in Black communities, and in fact, many areas in our communities look like war zones. Crime is too high in those communities.  Our Black business community is suffering, while the state’s budget has allocated just one percent of its contract to African-American firms under Quinn’s administration.

There is nothing to suggest this scenario will change with four more years of Pat Quinn.  To vote for him again is to vote for that status quo, which seems the essence of futility.

Bruce Rauner is a successful businessman, passionate about entrepreneurship and education.  His business skills will serve the Governor’s office well, as his priorities will be to overhaul the state’s antiquated and unproductive tax structure, recruit businesses to Illinois, and enhance state procurement and spending opportunities for minority businesses, all while he’s not taking a salary or pension from the state himself as governor. Rauner is a free agent who will not be swayed by lobbyists, career politicians or political bosses waiting for the next election.

Taking The Black Vote For Granted

America has a two-party system, but African Americans, for the most part, participate in one party, the Democratic Party.  In my political estimation, Blacks need to reach out to the Republican Party and the Republicans need to engage the Black vote. In doing so, the Black vote becomes respected and vetted.

The Democratic Party takes the Black vote for granted – at all levels, from President of the United States, to Governor of Illinois, to Mayor of Chicago. The party does not vie for our vote, or negotiate our vote. The pundits, the experts, the Democratic Party leaders openly say that we have nowhere else to go, in part because the Republican Party doesn’t court our vote either.

So for Black voters, it is generally a case of choosing between Democratic ideals and Republican ideals, with Democratic ideology usually most associated with our best interest.

African Americans have been the margin of win for the Democratic Party for decades, most notably since the John F. Kennedy/Martin Luther King era, when Mayor Richard J. Daley delivered the Black votes on the South Side of Chicago for Kennedy that provided the victory margin in his 1960 election.

African Americans have delivered to and for the Democrats time and time again. But, as national columnist Raynard Jackson says, “The Democrats have their biennial epiphany about the Black vote because they need Blacks to save them at the ballot box. Democrats will ‘target’ Blacks for purposes of an election; but won’t do the same thing in the area of legislation and public policy.”

African Americans are the only ethnic group that vote a majority-voting block and give their vote away.  Hispanics vote their agenda. Jews vote their agenda.  Irish vote their agenda.  Women vote their agenda. Blacks vote democratic and that’s all – party, not agenda.  With this elephant-like voting behavior, Blacks become political pawns, and the Democratic Party treats us as such.

squareLogo But what are the results and where are our rewards? Former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones famously said that the politician’s job is to bring home the bacon. Where is the Democrat’s bacon?

We have allowed politicians to have a casual relationship with our churches where we let them in to speak from our pulpits and yet they don’t return until the next election. We suffer from such behavior. The smile and wave has not served us well.

The Black vote was Pat Quinn’s margin of victory in his close election in 2010, when he narrowly beat Bill Brady with 46 percent of the vote.  Yet, when Quinn had an opportunity to fill his executive post of Lieutenant Governor with an African American for this election, he took a pass.  His opportunity was State Senator Art Turner or Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie Neely.  Quinn passed on them both, which was a political insult. If ever a position was earned, this was it.  But Quinn took a pass.

It is time for this insult to cease. It is time for Black people to stand up and vote for a person  rather than a party. It is time for a real change.

Do we just keep on voting democratic or do we challenge that party by looking at what’s offered on the other side, and by other candidates?  Why not?

Enter Bruce Rauner

Bruce Rauner is a fresh political face.  He represents real change with real solutions for the State of Illinois.  He will work hard with focus, diligence and proven business skills to develop the state, to uplift its status as one of the worse states in the nation economically.

Illinois has $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, among other financial deficits.  We have seen the state lottery privatized by Pat Quinn and turned over to a firm that contributed to his 2010 election, a firm that Quinn was forced to fire recently because it did not reach the goals it contracted to meet.

Under Quinn, we have 200 state patrol cars sitting in a parking lot, not on the street, because of poor management. Under Quinn, we have seen waste, incompetence, fraud – a governor under investigation for fiscal malfeasance and one with no specific plan or direction for lifting Illinois out of C201106-What-I-Was-Thinking-Bruce-Raunerthe quagmire that we are in.  We can do better than Pat Quinn.

I was introduced to Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, at a dinner hosted by Rev. and Mrs. James Meeks on a cold night last winter.  Bruce discussed his desire to run for governor. Why would anybody in your position – a wealthy, successful businessman – want to get into politics, he was asked.

His answer was, “because I care.”  He said he cared about the state of Illinois and its future.  He told us about himself, his concerns, his plans.  He listened as we discussed the dire straits of the African-American community.

Rev. Meeks discussed his concerns about public school funding, which was Meeks’ single most important agenda item when he served as a state senator for a decade.

I talked about Black businesses suffering and dying and changing.  I talked about the single most important challenge for Black businesses being capital – lack of it and access to it – and what our urban business community needed to thrive and survive.

We don’t meet people like you interested in investing in our small companies; would you? I asked.  He said yes.  Teach me.  Introduce me to your friends. Tell me what I should know.  We kicked his tires again and again, and Bruce passed our tests with flying colors.  He was honest about what he did and didn’t know.

My Personal Tie-In

I was impressed enough to join the Rauner campaign for the Republican primary, which he won.  I was paid to be a consultant and coalition builder who could help present him to the African-American community.  I did and I have caught hell.

I have taken a media beating for being with a Republican.  I have been called out of my name.  I have been insulted.  I have been threatened.  I have been scorned and abused by people I know well on talk radio shows, who have discussed me negatively.  The insults made me cry.

But this is not about me.  This is about supporting a candidate whom I know will be much better for the African-American community than the current governor on the platform of economic development for all of Illinois. And party has nothing to do with it.  It’s about the man.  Bruce Rauner is the right man for these times.

On Bruce Rauner’s behalf, I have reached out to all sectors of the African-American community. I introduced him to many people in small settings, observing him very closely.

He has visited churches, businesses and social events in the Black community to learn first hand the real issues.  He has listened as entrepreneurs have discussed slow pay from the state that straps cash flow and how long waits can actually put you out of business.

 He has talked to grassroots people.  He has met with community organizers of all sorts on the South and West sides and in the southern suburbs.  In one such meeting, he was asked if he, as an investor, would be supportive of start up businesses.  Bruce agreed and put one million dollars of his private funds in a South Side credit union.

rauner-CST-030914-01 He has talked to successful entrepreneurs and has learned the problems and issues reflecting the depths of the community.  He understands first hand the need for job creation and business development and access to capital for African-American businesses. When we were at the Bud Biliken Day Parade, I saw him walk up and down the route twice talking to as many people as he could.  And he has opened a Rauner campaign office on the South Side of Chicago.

Most of all, he is frugal.  He shops at Walmart.    He drives an old car.  He wears a watch that is 18 years old.  He is a graduate of public schools. This is an asset for a man of wealth.  There are no Bentleys or Rolexes on his must-have list. Not that he can’t afford such luxury, but it doesn’t make sense to him.

He is gracious and modest. He listens. He is the “somebody that nobody sent” and will play a different brand of politics.  Bruce will shake up Springfield.  He likes getting things done.  He strives on accomplishment.  He finishes what he starts.  He takes charge.  He faces adversity head on. His mindset is positive and straight-ahead.

Bruce and his wife Diana have been generous donors of educational funding for students and teachers. Some 20 years ago, he quietly funded a fully endowed professor’s chair at Morehouse College, Dr. King’s alma mater, with no fanfare at all.  I didn’t know about that contribution until well after I met him and our staff found out about it from doing background research on him.

Bruce’s funding has contributed to Safe Haven, an institution for the homeless and men coming out of jail and returning to society. He contributed to the building of a YMCA on the West Side that bears his name. His generosity has greatly benefited minority communities as he has quietly contributed millions.

Illinois At A Crossroads

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, future President Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden have all come in to advocate for Quinn, in ways that he cannot for himself because Quinn has no record of accomplishments on which to stand or run.

But their interest is not in Quinn; it’s in the color of the state. That is, they want to prevent the changing of the State of Illinois from Democratic blue to Republican red.  The impact on the national political landscape will be significant if the President’s own state changes from blue to red.

In the past six years, Pat Quinn has performed poorly.  The late Mayor Harold Washington called Quinn his political mistake as his revenue director and pointed out his incompetence.

Harold said, “My only regret is that we hired him and kept him too long.” This is exactly where we are in Illinois today – we have kept Quinn too long, and it would be folly to keep him any longer.

Pat Quinn is not the best we can do.  He’s a manager, not a leader. It’s unsure that Quinn ever wanted to be governor, or would have had the gumption to run for the position on his own had fate not intervened.

He became governor by default, remember, when Rod Blagojevich was kicked out of office in 2009, and then-Lt. Gov. Quinn filled the rest of Rod’s term before running for his own election in 2010 and barely avoiding defeat.

Even in this year’s Democratic Primary, polls showed that Lisa Madigan would have beaten out incumbent Quinn for the Democratic Party nomination had she stayed in the race.

Pat Quinn is hardly “the people’s choice” or  “the people’s champion.” We can do significantly better at a time when our state is at such a fiscal crossroads.

We can do significantly better by electing Bruce Rauner.

He will advocate for equity in education funding for all schools. He believes in school choice. He has a detailed plan for jobs and growth.  He has a vision for the State of Illinois.

In an effort to attract Black voters, Pat Quinn has made the centerpiece of his campaign the promise to raise the minimum wage.

Rauner has said it would be best if a raise of the minimum wage could be tied to tax breaks for smaller businesses that might hire less if forced to pay a higher wage.

Quinn’s emphasis on the minimum wage now is a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived Rauner liability on an issue that basically came out of the blue. With Democratic control of the Illinois legislature and Governor’s mansion, Quinn could have raised the minimum wage anytime he wanted in the past six years.  His sudden ownership of the issue now as a political hot potato shows no vision or well thought out economic plan for Illinois.

Bruce Rauner will provide the State of Illinois with what it needs most: leadership. It is time for progressive thinking and a new politic.  It is time for change. Rauner will bring that change.rauner

Nothing changes with Quinn in the front seat, but Mike Madigan still being the driving political force in Springfield.  With Bruce Rauner in the front seat, it’s a brand new ride.  And at the DuSable Museum debate with Quinn, Rauner pledged to have African American representation at all levels of his administration.

With the Rauner business success story, he is bound to serve the State of Illinois well and bring about the necessary change.

I encourage you to Punch 8 for Bruce Rauner.  Give our state an equal opportunity for success and prosperity. 

 

 

Leave a comment