Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Rauschenberger Can’t Lose With This Deal

The deal that was sprung last night—Ron Gidwitz for governor running with Steve Rauschenberger for lieutenant governor—may sound spooky (it should be the other way around), but it’s a good deal for the Elgin state senator. Steve Rauschenberger has mystified me for a long while. He’s 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 aisle—but.

But he hasn’t been able to raise money, hasn’t been able to connect in any of the state races he run. He’s 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 doesn’t seem to have the connectivity it needs to translate into votes. It’s a chemistry thing. Rather like George Romney of another generation with a superb resume who couldn’t strike the needed spark with the Republican voters for president. Rauschenberger is the man you’d hire for governor but, somehow, isn’t electable.

Now let’s look at the deal from Rauschenberger’s standpoint. It’s 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 they’re starting to get so that he wins as light governor, he’s 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 (I’ve done it on the Washington, D. C. side) but there are better ways.

He’s 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 it’s an honorable deal. True, he told the Tribune he won’t run with Topinka whom he has attacked but don’t count on it. But even if Rauschenberger keeps his word and doesn’t 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 don’t seem to be there.

One candidate who seems to be helped by the deal at this time seems to be Bill Brady—but his campaign hasn’t taken off after the very good start it had with the endorsement by the Conservative Summit. Why I don’t 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, it’s 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.


  1. Tom,

    As useful as that summit was for airing some issues, one could hardly call it a broad spectrum of Illinois conservatives.

    While we putative insiders like to think of ourselves as that tail that wags the dog, the dog (about 2,000,000 voters) may have other ideas.

    I usually defer to your greater experience in these matters, but this looks more and more like a double split race.

    Gidwitz has gobs of money, more than a few brain cells to rub together, and Rauchenberger's help.

    If Judy stays in, they will split the "liberal" vote.

    Brady would have mortgage his financial future to compete with Oberweis, so he doesn't pose as big a threat to Oberweis as Gidwitz does to JBT.

    In retrospect, doesn't Rauschenberger's exit assist Oberweis?

    Wouldn't Brady's exit virtually seal an Oberwies victory?

    Couldn't any of them (save the awful Topinka) beat Rod if they run a good race?

    ABT - anybody but Topinka.

  2. He may "win" exposure.

    He may "win" a better financial situation.

    But he may lose his credibility along with the election and true conservatives lose a viable option. He may as well run for County Dog Catcher, as the postion wields nearly as much influence and input in the process as Lt. Governor. I am disappointed that the man lacks so little fight as to throw in the towel this early in the politcal season.

    He well should be in the senior position on the ticket. I certainly could be more excited. Pretty soon you'll need a net worth of 3 million to even consider running for office.

    This assists nobody except perhaps Rauschenburger's politcal and/or personal pocketbook.