Rauner Sending A Message With Staff Shakeup

Jul 12, 2017

Credit NPRIllinois

The Governor failed to get a lot of what he wanted in the recent legislative session.   Now, there's fallout in the top ranks of Bruce Rauner's administration.  

In less than a week after the legislature overrode the governor's vetoes and passed a budget and tax increase, the house cleaning is underway. Rauner's Chief of Staff, Communications Director and others are out.  

In their place, those who have ties to the conservative Illinois Policy Institute.  That's an organization, often referred to as a free market think tank that has been vocal on several issues, including opposition to higher taxes and calls for slashing state programs.

Thom Serafin is a Chicago consultant and political analyst.  

"The governor hasn't talked to me about it, but (from) my vantage point it's setting a clearer, cleaner path of where he wants to take his administration through the election cycle," Serafin said.

He said the income tax increase was unpopular, and could give Rauner a key point to run on in 2018. But Serafin said the message must get through that he rejected it in the absence of other key reforms.  

"In order for the governor to get re-elected, he's got to be very focused and his message has to be certain.  And he has to be certain that his message is getting out to the general public and they understand where he's coming from," Serafin said. "I know internally they have to feel they were not able to get their message across."  

The Illinois Policy Institute has received financial contributions from Bruce Rauner in the past.  But the organization attacked the governor for considering raising taxes as part of a larger budget deal.  

IPI's President and CEO Kristina Rasmussen was tapped to be Rauner's new Chief of Staff, Michael Lucci, IPI's Vice President of Policy, will serve as the administration's new Deputy Chief of Staff. Laurel Patrick, who has worked in Washington for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity and also for Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, will head up Rauner's Communications team.