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Bruce Rauner's Gubernatorial Campaign Videos Are Kind Of Creepy

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 18, 2013 3:45PM


Venture capitalist and Illinois Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner has been working overtime to cast himself to voters as a man who picked himself up by his bootstraps, worked for everything he earned and remained humble even as he acquired the wealth and success that earned him a spot as an adviser and confidant to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

But Rauner may be overplaying his hand with his latest series of campaign ads playing in television markets across the state. The ads attempt to further cement Rauner as an outsider who would change the way Illinois works if he’s elected. But goddamn, some of these commercials give us the douche chills.

Exhibit A: “Light.” In this ad Rauner flicks a cigarette lighter on and off, each time offering stares ranging from “disappointed father” to “serial killer


Exhibit B: "Lunch." Here Rauner unpacks the contents of a sad brown bag lunch—bottled water, really? Was a juice box beneath him?—and proceeds to "eat the career politicians for lunch."


Exhibit C: "Hammer." In this video, Rauner appears to pick up a hammer for the first time in his adult life.


You get the picture. Rauner’s campaign filmed seven of these 16-second ads, dedicated Internet space to collect them all in one place for people to vote on their favorite and is promoting them on social media with the hashtag #hammerandshake. While many voters will be attracted to Rauner’s no-nonsense approach in the ad campaign those of us who remember his belligerent stance during last year’s teachers strike; his time as chairman of the board at Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism office, where he said “the city now realizes” the value of money spent on marketing and marketing in tourism; and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he donated to his own campaign in an attempt to turn the race for governor into a cash grab see another insider already adept at the political game.

Rauner’s populist campaign also flies in the face of how he earned his millions and his general net worth. Per the Tribune:

There's the 6,870-square-foot Rauner mansion on a half-acre lot in Winnetka; two units, including a penthouse, in a luxury high-rise overlooking Millennium Park; a waterfront villa in the Florida Keys with a 72-foot-long pool; ranches in Montana and Wyoming; and a condo in an upscale Utah ski resort.

Most carry price tags well into the seven figures. But topping the list is a penthouse in a landmark co-op building along New York's Central Park, which property records show Rauner bought in 2005 for $10 million.

Rauner has amassed a larger stable of high-end residences than Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee whose plentiful and opulent homes lent ammunition to foes who portrayed him as an out-of-touch elitist.

Rauner dismisses any such comparison to Romney and says the watch demonstrates what he is really about — value for his investment. He idolizes his maternal grandfather, Clarence Erickson, who lived in a mobile home and worked as a laborer in a Wisconsin cheese factory.

"I'm very thoughtful and disciplined with my money," Rauner said in an interview Friday, adding he doesn't like to "spend frivolously or for big consumption."

Rauner has also hounded Gov. Pat Quinn on pension reform. In another video he takes Quinn to task and compares Illinois’ underfunded pension problem to Detroit’s.

“Illinois’ pension crisis has been building for two decades because the career politicians refuse to fundamentally transform the pension system. It’s time to move towards a 401(k)-style program, similar to what most workers have in the private sector, and refuse to make any more special deals with government union bosses. That’s the only way to honestly protect both state workers as well as the taxpayers.”

Yet Rauner amassed his wealth in part by investing and managing public pension funds.

While school teachers, prison guards, university employees and child welfare workers are staring at a revamped pension plan that will bite into their future earning power, Rauner is enjoying the fruits of his investments.

He reported earning over $100 million in the past three years alone. Reports indicate he has eight homes, including ranches out West, penthouses in New York and Chicago and a beach house in Florida.

Rauner’s handlers didn’t make him available to discuss the disconnect between Rauner’s riches and his position on ending pension plans for public servants.

But, Rauner’s campaign spokesman said Rauner’s investment firm GTCR delivered ample returns for the pension systems at a time when lawmakers and former governors were not sufficiently funding them.

“So on one side you had the politicians creating the problem and on the other you had GTCR and Bruce creating tremendous returns,” spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.

In short: if you like Rahm Emanuel you're going to love Bruce Rauner.