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Bruce Rauner

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Bruce Rauner
Bruce Rauner.jpg
Governor of Illinois
In office
January 12, 2015 - present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 0
PredecessorPat Quinn (D)
Base salary$177,412
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 4, 2014
Next generalNovember 6, 2018
Term limitsNone
Bachelor'sDartmouth College
Master'sHarvard University
ProfessionVenture Capitalist
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Bruce Rauner is the 42nd and current Governor of Illinois. A Republican, Rauner was first elected in 2014, unseating Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn in the general election on November 4, 2014. On January 12, 2015, Rauner was sworn in for a four-year term in office.[1][2][3]

Rauner's high-profile path to the governorship included a highly competitive primary, which pit him against two state Senators, Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady, and state treasurer Dan Rutherford.[4] Rauner, alongside lieutenant governor running mate Evelyn Sanguinetti, emerged from the March 18 Republican primary with the party's nomination. Rauner and Sanguinetti faced the Democratic ticket of incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn and Paul Vallas and the Libertarian ticket of Chad Grimm and Alex Cummings in the general election. They earned 50.2 percent of the vote and defeated Quinn and Vallas by a margin of four percentage points, winning the governor's office back for the Republican Party after 12 years under Democratic control.[1]

Rauner is a wealthy businessman by trade, working primarily in venture capital. He is also a self-professed education activist supporting public charter schools and school choice.[5]


An Illinois native of working class means, Rauner left home to begin his post-secondary education at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. At Dartmouth, Rauner supported himself working side jobs while studying for his bachelor's degree. He went on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School.[5]

After graduating from Harvard, later moved back to Illinois and launched his career with Golder, Thoma, Cressey (later GTCR).[5] Only a startup when Rauner joined, GTCR expanded into a successful investment company. His wealth grew out of being among the GTCR's first partners.[5]

Rauner cited education as his "greatest passion" in his campaign biography;[5] with his wife, he has helped establish several organizations related to charter and choice schools, including the New Schools for Chicago, the Chicago Public Education Fund, The Noble Network of Charter Schools, Chicago Communities in Schools and the ACT Charter School.[6]


  • B.A.: Dartmouth College
  • MBA: Harvard[5]

Political career

Governor of Illinois (2015-Present)

Rauner is the 42nd and current Illinois Governor. Rauner assumed the governorship on January 12, 2015, beginning his first four-year term. He succeeded Democrat Pat Quinn, who failed to defend his seat against Rauner in the 2014 general election.



See also: Illinois gubernatorial election, 2014

Rauner ran on the Republican ticket for election as Illinois Governor in 2014 alongside running mate Evelyn Sanguinetti. Rauner overcame two state Senators, Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady, as well as state treasurer Dan Rutherford, for the Republican nomination in the primary election on March 18, 2014. He and Sanguinetti defeated the Democratic ticket of incumbent Pat Quinn and Paul Vallas in the general election. Libertarians Chad Grimm and Alex Cummings were also on the November ballot. The general election took place November 4, 2014.[2][3]


Primary election
Governor and Lt. Governor of Illinois, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngBruce Rauner & Evelyn Sanguinetti 40.1% 328,934
Kirk Dillard & Jil Tracy 37.2% 305,120
Bill Brady & Maria Rodriguez 15.1% 123,708
7.6% 61,948
Total Votes 819,710
Election Results via Illinois State Board of Elections.
General election
Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBruce Rauner/Evelyn Sanguinetti 50.3% 1,823,627
     Democratic Pat Quinn/Paul Vallas Incumbent 46.3% 1,681,343
     Libertarian Chad Grimm/Alex Cummings 3.4% 121,534
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0% 1,186
Total Votes 3,627,690
Election Results via Illinois State Board of Elections.

Race background

Challenges for Gov. Quinn

Current incumbent Pat Quinn, a Democrat who went from lieutenant governor to governor following Rod Blagojevich's 2009 impeachment, won a full term in 2010 and lost his bid for re-election in 2014 to Republican Bruce Rauner. According to multiple outside ratings, Quinn was among the most vulnerable governors in the 2014 electoral cycle.[7]

Incumbent Lt. Gov Sheila Simon (D) announced in February 2013 that she would not run for re-election in 2014 alongside Quinn, her 2010 running mate. Simon said she wanted to seek a new office that would allow her to have a "greater impact," and later declared her candidacy for state comptroller.[8][9] Simon's thinly veiled swipe at the office's impact was followed shortly thereafter by the Illinois House of Representatives' approval of a proposal seeking to eliminate the position of lieutenant governor altogether by constitutional amendment, effective after the 2018 election. In order for the measure to be passed, it would need the approval of both the State Senate and Illinois voters.[10] Quinn said he wanted “a people person” to replace Simon, and ultimately settled on former Chicago public schools chief Paul Vallas.[11]

The 2014 electoral cycle marked the first time in Illinois history that candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor ran on a single ticket in the primary election phase. Spurred by the 2010 election fiasco when Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Scott Lee Cohen had to drop out of the race after being arrested on charges of steroid use and domestic battery, the new joint ticket rule intended to increase the importance of the lieutenant governor based on its partnership with the governor. In theory, allowing gubernatorial candidates to handpick their running mates for the primary would cause campaigns to "better define their priorities for voters and cover more ground as election season gets underway."[11]

As of March 2015, Illinois is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas. In such a blue state, it was expected that Quinn's biggest threat in 2014 would come from a fellow Democrat. The potential primary challenges for Quinn included William "Bill" Daley, a past U.S. Commerce Secretary and White House chief of staff, and attorney general Lisa Madigan. Quinn dodged both bullets as both potential challengers removed themselves from contention by September 2013. Madigan dropped her long anticipated bid in June 2013 in order to seek another term as attorney general.[12][13][14] In September 2013, after a promising first stretch of campaigning, Daley abruptly ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination.[15][14] Called "a member of Chicago's first political family," for his relation to two of Chicago's longest-reigning mayors, Daley's departure in particular was a coup for Quinn, whose apparently bleak re-election prospects improved markedly in his absence.[16]

Quinn was the fifth out of a total of 46 previous Illinois lieutenant governors to have succeeded to the governorship mid-term. As governor, Quinn emphasized improving the state government's ethical standards and protecting public-sector labor unions. His tenure was marred by steep, deeply unpopular budget cuts and tax increases stemming from long-term state debt among other issues that contributed to his status among the least popular governors facing re-election in 2014.[17]


Bruce Rauner earned the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune prior to the general election.[18] The Chicago Tribune traditionally endorses Republican candidates for statewide and national office, with the notable exception of the paper's endorsement for Barack Obama (D) in the 2008 presidential election.[19]

Third-party candidates

Quinn and Rauner ran against Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm. There were three other third party tickets in race, led by Michael Oberline (Constitution) Scott Summers (Green) and Michael Hawkins (Independent), until an August 22 petition challenge ruling by the Illinois State Board of Elections disqualified their respective parties from appearing on the November 4 ballot. It was the first time in a decade that the Libertarian Party, which survived the signature challenge, was the only minor party to compete for Illinois statewide office in the general election.[20]

Primary review, cross-party vote phenomenon

On September 3, 2013, individuals aiming to qualify for a slot on the March 2014 primary ballot began gathering signatures. The filing period for major party primary candidates ended on December 2, 2013, with only one Democrat, Tio Hardiman, filing to go up against Quinn. On the Republican end, candidates included state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state treasurer Dan Rutherford and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner. Early polls showed Rutherford as the front-runner for the GOP nomination, but Rauner rocketed ahead of the pack by November 2013 and maintained a 15-point average lead up to the March primary, which he won.[21]

A newcomer to politics, Rauner achieved the name recognition he needed to overcome his more established opponents with the help of massive campaign spending totaling nearly $14 million, including $6 million of his own money—the highest amount a candidate has ever spent on his own primary campaign for governor in Illinois.[22][23]

Unofficial results from the March 18 primaries revealed some steep deviations from typical voting behaviors recorded in past elections. Based on the breakdown of votes in the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries provided by the Chicago Tribune on election night, Ballot Access News analyzed what appeared to be a spectacularly low turnout of Democratic voters (438,112 votes) in the party's nominally contested primary. They detected that hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters must have taken advantage of the state's mixed-hybrid primary system to vote the Republican ballot instead of their own. Under Illinois' primary rules, voters can change parties each year but must declare a party affiliation at the polls. Depending on which party is chosen, the voter will then be counted as registered for that party. Voters may change party affiliation at polls or caucus.[24]

The mass cross-over by Democrats was linked to one specific issue highlighted in this year's GOP governor's race: government employee unions. Most of the Democrats who participated in the Republican primary did so in order to ensure Kirk Dillard, who sided with the unions in the state senate, would lose to Bruce Rauner, who promised to curtail union influence.[25]

In Illinois, the last time more votes were cast in the Republican than the Democratic gubernatorial primary was 1986; not since the 1940s had so few votes been cast in a Democratic gubernatorial primary election. Compared to the last five Illinois gubernatorial elections, there was no significant spike in Republican votes in 2014, indicating the trend reversal was caused by a tremendous drop in Democratic gubernatorial primary votes cast.[25]


General election
All candidates

Governor of Illinois: All candidates
Poll Pat Quinn* (D) Bruce Rauner (R)Chad Grimm (L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
We Ask America/Reboot Illinois
September 2, 2014
Global Strategy Group (D-DGA)
September 4-7, 2014
The Chicago Tribune/APC Research, Inc.
September 3-12, 2014
We Ask America/Reboot Illinois
October 6, 2014
Early & Often/We Ask America
October 8, 2014
Southern Illinois University
September 23-October 15, 2014
We Ask America
October 27-28, 2014
AVERAGES 43.75% 41.55% 5.49% 8.9% +/-3.31 1,090.71
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

**Incumbency is denoted by asterisk (*)

Quinn vs. Rauner

Governor of Illinois: Pat Quinn vs. Bruce Rauner
Poll Pat Quinn* (D) Bruce Rauner (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Rasmussen Reports
April 9-10, 2014
We Ask America/Reboot Illinois
June 10-11, 2014
We Ask America/Capitol Fax
July 8, 2014
Rasmussen Reports
July 29-30, 2014
Gravis Marketing/Human Events (R)
August 4-5, 2014
We Ask America/Chicago Sun Times
August 6, 2014
Garin-Hart-Yang (D)
August 12-14, 2014
New York Times/CBS/YouGov
August 18-September 2, 2014
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
September 20-October 1, 2014
Rasmussen Reports
October 20-22, 2014
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
October 16-23, 2014
AVERAGES 41.27% 46% 11.27% +/-3.26 1,709.64
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

**Incumbency is denoted by asterisk (*)

Republican Primary

Illinois Governor - 2014 Republican Primary
Poll Bill Brady Kirk DillardBruce RaunerDan RutherfordUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Capitol Fax/We AskAmericaPoll
June 20, 2013
November 26, 2013
Chicago Tribune/WGN
February 2-8, 2014
February 25, 2014
Chicago Tribune/WGN
March 1-5, 2014
March 4, 2014
March 11, 2014
March 16, 2014
AVERAGES 17.09% 17.48% 35.02% 11.83% 18.46% +/-3.17 1,068
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

**Due to the nature of the comparison, a placeholder figure of 0% is assigned to candidates not included in any given match-up round

Campaign themes

  • Jobs:
On Rauner's campaign website, he outlined his plan to bring jobs to Illinois. Along with a complete overhaul of the current tax code, Rauner also planned to create "Right-to-Work" zones, enact tort reform, and reform the compensation system to make Illinois more competitive for workers from the Midwest.[5] On the Right to Work issue, Rauner said, "What I’m a proponent of is allowing local governments in the state of Illinois — counties and municipalities — to decide for themselves whether to be Right to Work... For counties and municipalities that don’t want employee freedom, they can do that."[26]
  • Government Spending and Pension Reform:
If elected, Rauner stated that he would "audit every dime," and reform the current pension system.

On his campaign website, Rauner says he would take these steps toward pension reform.

  • "Ensure pay and benefits do not rise faster than the rate of inflation."
  • "Eliminate the ability of government employees to receive massive pay raises before they retire just to increase their pension."
  • "Cap the current system and move towards a defined contribution system."[5]
  • Government Reform + Term limits:
See also Illinois Term Limits for Legislators Amendment (2014)
Rauner would like to enforce an eight-year term limit for governors, and push for term limits for the Illinois legislature.[5]
"We are the worst-run state in America with the most corrupt politicians in America...It’s time we dramatically shake up the system and get rid of these career politicians. We want regular, everyday people who are going into public service for the right reasons."[27]
  • Education:
If elected, Rauner proposed to hold failing teachers accountable and increase the percentage of education money spent on teachers and classroom technology while lessening the amount spent on administration.[5]
  • School choice:
"I’m a big believer that we need to empower parents with choice." "Too many children are trapped in failing schools, and if their parents don’t have sufficient income to choose a different school or move or fund private school, then they’re stuck." "Milwaukee has had a longstanding voucher program, and Indiana has put in place, I think, a very good voucher program."[28]
  • Tax extension:
"I’d veto it so fast it would make your head spin... We have got to reduce the tax burden on our economy, on homeowners, we’ve got to reduce the spending."[29]
  • Corporate incentives:
"We are a regulation heavy, restrictive, heavy bureaucracy state," Rauner said in a gubernatorial debate held in late February in Springfield. "We need to become pro-free enterprise and pro-growth again so we are stealing businesses back from Indiana rather than the other way around."[30]


Primary debate

In January 2014, Rauner and three other Republican gubernatorial candidates participated in a debate. Rauner expressed confidence in his lead in the polls and fundraising efforts to translate to votes. “We have 2,000 volunteers signed-up in our campaign,” Rauner said. "We have college kids, we have high school kids, and we even have folks who are traditionally Democrats."[31]

Debate media

October 9 debate
October 9 debate

Bruce Rauner (R) and Pat Quinn (D) shared barbs over past executive experiences during a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Illinois and WTVP. Quinn criticized Rauner as a political novice who had not been effective at turning around businesses as an equity investor. He cited bankruptcy proceedings for a nursing home operator run by Rauner's firm that was sued for wrongful deaths as signs of "businesses that went wrong" under the Republican candidate's watch. Rauner responded by pointing to poor state management of a $54.5 million anti-violence grant that has been under investigation by federal officials. The Republican candidate claimed that Quinn and state Democrats used the funds to shore up African American votes in the state, while Quinn argued that he eliminated the program when irregularities were brought to his attention.[32]

Quinn asserted that the state's economic fortunes improved in the past four years, with increases in jobs throughout the state and decreased unemployment. Rauner repeatedly used the term "failure" to describe Quinn's gubernatorial experience, claiming that "a small group of Chicago machine politicians" led the state down the wrong path.[32]

Campaign media

Bruce Rauner: Remember This - posted 7/11/14

"Nuts" - posted 4/4/14

"Beautiful Thing" - posted 4/28/14

"Principle" - posted 4/28/14

"Wrong Direction" - posted 4/28/14

"Upside Down" - posted 6/11/13

"Back To Work" - posted 6/11/13

"Snow Globe" - posted 12/2013

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Rauner is available dating back to 2014. Based on available campaign finance records, Rauner raised a total of $46,356,820 during that time period. This information was last updated on January 11, 2015.[33]

Bruce Rauner's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2014 Governor of Illinois Won $46,356,820
Grand Total Raised $46,356,820


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Bruce Rauner's donors each year.[34] Click [show] for more information.


Rauner and his wife, Diana Mendley Rauner, have six children.[5] Diana was a registered lobbyist for Ounce of Prevention Fund, a human rights group, from 2008-2010.[35][36]

See also

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Contact information

Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-0244
TTY: 888-261-3336

Office of the Governor
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: 312-814-2121

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  1. 1.0 1.1 The Chicago Tribune, "Rauner takes oath as governor Monday, to great Republican fanfare," January 12, 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Chicago Tribune, "Bruce Rauner raises $1.3 million in a month for governor's race," April 2, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Southern, "Rutherford announces gov. campaign in Southern Illinois," June 2, 2013
  4. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Candidate list," December 3, 2013
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 Bruce Rauner, About Bruce," accessed January 27, 2014
  6. Bruce Rauner for Governor 2014 Official campaign website, "Issues: Education," accessed July 14, 2014
  7. Governing Politics, "2013-2014 Governor's Races: Who's Vulnerable?," December 11, 2012
  8. Chicago Tribune, "Simon will not run again for lieutenant governor," February 13, 2013
  9. Chicago Magazine, "What Happens After Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon Quits Pat Quinn’s Team," March 26, 2013
  10. The Chicago Tribune, "House votes to eliminate lieutenant governor post," April 12, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 CBS Local - Chicago, "2014 Governor Candidates To Choose Running Mates," August 24, 2013
  12. Capitol Fax, "This just in… Lisa Madigan announces re-election bid," July 15, 2013
  13. Governing, "William Daley Considering Bid for Illinois Governor," December 21, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1, "Daley files paperwork for governor run," June 10, 2013
  15. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named dropout
  16. New Jersey Herald, "Daley: Exit from race doesn't mean I couldn't win," September 17, 2013
  17. St. Louis Today, "Illinois Gov. Quinn 2nd least popular incumbent going into 2014," April 9, 2013
  18. Chicago Tribune, "For governor: The Tribune endorses Bruce Rauner, to revive Illinois," October 10, 2014
  19. Chicago Sun-Times, "Chicago Tribune endorses Obama. First Democrat to get Trib presidential nod," October 17, 2008
  20. Ballot Access News, "Libertarian Party Statewide Slate Will Appear on Illinois Ballot," August 22, 2014
  21., "Capitol Fax/We Ask America Poll - Poll shows Rauner movement," July 8, 2013
  22. Crain's Chicago Business, "How Bruce Rauner won the GOP primary," March 19, 2014
  23. Peoria Public Radio, "How the self-funding of Rauner's campaign is impacting the race for Governor," March 12, 2014
  24. Chicago Tribune, "Election Calendar, Primary Results," last updated March 18, 2014
  25. 25.0 25.1 Ballot Access News, "Shockingly Low Turnout in Illinois Democratic Primary Suggests Many Democrats Voted in Republican Primary," March 20, 2014
  26. Illinois News Network, "GOP gubernatorial candidates differ on Right to Work," November 25, 2013
  27. Illinois News Network, "No agreement on term limits among gubernatorial candidates," October 8, 2013
  28. Illinois News Network, "Gubernatorial candidates talk school choice," March 4, 2014
  29. Illinois News Network, "Tax extension not popular with candidates," February 10, 2014
  30. Illinois News Network, "Corporate incentives and the candidates," February 25, 2014
  31., "You talking to me? GOP candidates for IL turn to party faithful," January 24, 2014
  32. 32.0 32.1 Chicago Tribune, "Quinn, Rauner try to create fear about the other guy during debate," accessed October 15, 2014
  33. Follow the Money, "Contributions to Rauner, Bruce Vincent & Sanguinetti, Evelyn Pacino," accessed January 11, 2015
  34. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  35. Follow The Money: Diana M Rauner, 2008-09
  36. Follow The Money: Diana M Rauner, 2010
Political offices
Preceded by
Pat Quinn (D)
Governor of Illinois
January 12, 2015 – Present
Succeeded by