The deal that was sprung last nightRon Gidwitz for governor running with Steve Rauschenberger for lieutenant governormay sound spooky (it should be the other way around), but its a good deal for the Elgin state senator. Steve Rauschenberger has mystified me for a long while. Hes a brilliant policy wonk, good at ad libs, funny, collegial and well-liked with an excellent reputation, probably the most respected Republican on both sides of the aislebut.
But he hasnt been able to raise money, hasnt been able to connect in any of the state races he run. Hes been endorsed by almost all Illinois newspapers in prior runs but his name just simply lies there flat and does nothing but appear to be doomed in the voters minds for number three or four in a six person lineup. Why? Somehow his personality doesnt seem to have the connectivity it needs to translate into votes. Its a chemistry thing. Rather like George Romney of another generation with a superb resume who couldnt strike the needed spark with the Republican voters for president. Rauschenberger is the man youd hire for governor but, somehow, isnt electable.
Now lets look at the deal from Rauschenbergers standpoint. Its a no-lose deal. Gidwitz plops more cash into the race where the two run as a team which benefits Rauschenberger. If Rauschenberger can build on the publicity theyre starting to get so that he wins as light governor, hes made the right choice. But so has he if they both lose and form a bond for the future (Gidwitz seems definite about wanting a political career). Rauschenberger will have a job working for a multi-millionaire or gain entry to the walnut-paneled board rooms courtesy of that multi-millionaire. Remember, Rauschenberger is in his late `40s, is of modest wealth, is no lawyer and without Gidwitz could well be on the job market hanging around the brass rail in Springfield as a lobbyist: not too bad a way to end up (Ive done it on the Washington, D. C. side) but there are better ways.
Hes definitely improved his chances with this deal and just might end up running as lieutenant governor with any of the three remaining candidates: Topinka, Oberweis and Brady. And its an honorable deal. True, he told the Tribune he wont run with Topinka whom he has attacked but dont count on it. But even if Rauschenberger keeps his word and doesnt link arms with Topinka, Ron Gidwitz is determined to run for something in this world and serve in a public capacity and he needs a sagacious counselor for that effort. I can see Steve Rauschenberger as an extraordinarily well-paid aide. Not a bad chapter given in his chosen profession the votes dont seem to be there.
One candidate who seems to be helped by the deal at this time seems to be Bill Bradybut his campaign hasnt taken off after the very good start it had with the endorsement by the Conservative Summit. Why I dont know. The candidate most helped is, I think, Jim Oberweis. He has improved enormously on the stump and on the radio. His TV commercials must be made with great care: there have been mistakes made before in that area and they must be viewed pre-showing on TV with great care. On balance, its my view that the Gidwitz-Rauschenberger deal was a good one from the standpoint of the Republican party. Reminder: Ron Gidwitz will be on my WLS radio show Sunday at 8 p.m. with State Rep. Jack Franks (D-IL). Plan on listening.