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Rauner's Previous Minimum Wage Stance Comes Back To Haunt Him

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 4, 2014 7:10PM


Until recently, Illinois Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner has done a good job leading incumbent Pat Quinn in the polls, simply by talking loud and saying nothing. With the latter, Rauner’s campaign has worked overtime to ensure their boss has uttered nothing of substance and sticking to the script that he wants to shake up Illinois politics.

Yet with two months to go until the November election, Quinn has managed to close a double digit Rauner lead in polls and make this a contest. In a recent Reboot Illinois/We Are America survey, Quinn trails Rauner by 8.5 percentage points.

One of the few issues where Rauner firmly planted his foot in his mouth is on the subject of raising the minimum wage. While Quinn proudly announced he would live on minimum wage for a week and has pushed for a $10 hourly minimum wage on the campaign trail, Rauner has been dogged by previous comments he wanted to lower the state’s minimum wage because “we’ve got to be competitive here in Illinois.” Rauner backtracked a bit in January on his minimum wage position and said he was “flippant,” in that way astroturfing billionaire venture capitalists who self-finance their political campaigns tend to be.

Rauner’s moment of cheekiness is now resurfacing, courtesy of an audio interview he gave to WJBC-AM in Bloomington on Jan. 10, 2014. In that interview, Rauner admitted he considered on several occasions supported the position of not only lowering the minimum wage to the national standard of $7.25 an hour, but eliminating it altogether. Then he continued to backtrack.

“It’s a mistake for me to focus on lowering the minimum wage or eliminating it because there are better ways to increase Illinois’ competitiveness,” Rauner said at the time.

The timing of the radio interview resurfacing does not bode well for Rauner. Thousands of fast food workers and supporters of a minimum wage hike are protesting across the country Thursday. (Two dozen demonstrators were arrested outside a McDonald’s in Chatham.) The interview comes a day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed an executive order Wednesday raising the minimum wage for employees of contractors and subcontractors holding city contracts to $13 an hour.

Opponents of Rauner were quick to pounce on the interview. The Democratic Governors Association released a statement calling the interview “most revealing moment of Bruce Rauner’s candidacy.”

”Throughout this campaign he has been a master of disguise - veiling his elitist and exploitative philosophies with flannel shirts and a cheap watch. But Rauner can’t hide from his own damning advocacy against real people living from paycheck to paycheck. By supporting the elimination of the minimum wage, Bruce Rauner has distinguished himself as the most dangerous candidate that Illinois’ working families have ever seen.”

Illinois Federation of Teachers president Dan Montgomery said in a statement to media, “the more voters learn about the Real Rauner, the less we like.”

“The news that Bruce Rauner favors eliminating the minimum wage is appalling and demonstrates how completely out of touch the billionaire is with working families. He talks a good game in his empty TV commercials, but Bruce Rauner owes Illinois voters a real explanation for this extreme position and his fairy tale budget proposal, which would blow an $8-billion dollar hole in the state budget and force larger class sizes and devastating cuts to our public schools. Illinois families deserve better.”

The Quinn campaign said they aren’t surprised by Rauner’s previous position.

“While Mr. Rauner originally said his comment about cutting the minimum wage was ‘flippant,’ this little-noticed audio clip proves otherwise. This is the real Bruce Rauner and this is what he truly believes.

“Whether he’s dropping $140,000 on a luxury wine membership or pushing to eliminate the minimum wage, Bruce Rauner is the most out-of-touch candidate for Governor in Illinois history.”

Rauner’s attempts to backtrack on his previous comments will not die and has become the issue that has brought Quinn back to the governor’s race. Rauner may be working overtime to make these comments go away, but voters should expect some creative campaign ads in the coming weeks ensuring his previous position on the minimum wage stays at the forefront of undecided voters.