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Meet Bruce Rauner, the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics (Part 3)

As we told you in Part 1 and Part 2, the "Mitt Romney of Illinois politics is Bruce Rauner," who is running for governor of Illinois. Rauner is trying to buy his way into the governor's office.

Mitt Romney (left) has been compared to Bruce Rauner (right), namely, their love of money.
Romney (left) Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP; Rauner (right) Brian Kersey/Getty Images

In the recent history of Illinois politics, candidates such as JB Pritzker, or Ron Gidwitz, or Andy McKenna or Al Salvi or Jack Ryan have tried to buy their way into political office and failed. On the list includes the Republican nominee for United States Senate, Jim Oberweis. All have run for office and self-funded and lost.

One of the most striking examples is the candidacy of Blair Hull, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2004 in the Democratic primary. The similarities to Rauner are striking, as Hull was a self-made millionaire.

Hull founded a company called Hull Trading Company in 1985 and served as the firm’s Chairman and chief executive officer before selling it to Goldman Sachs for $531M in 1999. Like Rauner, Hull used his wealth to donate to other candidates and to develop friendships including former Mayor Richard M. Daley and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Hull self-funded an astonishing total of $29,598,068.64 and only raised outside of himself $404,417.72. That field included Barack Obama, Gery Chico, Maria Pappas, and Dan Hynes.

Obama went on to win that primary, a race that propelled him onto the national scene and the presidency.

Rauner is also self-funding to the tune of millions, but is not expected to get anywhere near the Blair Hull levels of 2004. Another difference is that Rauner is also raising money independent of his own money.

In Rauner's case, he can self-fund on the Hull levels.

In 2012, Rauner reported a jaw-dropping $53.4 million in net income. He paid $10.1 million in federal taxes in 2012, which amounted to an effective tax rate of 19 percent — a percentage still below what many middle-class families pay. Rauner paid state government $2.6 million in taxes for the year.

In 2011, Rauner reported $28.1 million in income and in 2010 $27.1 million.

Rauner explained his financial success. "I’ve worked extremely hard and feel incredibly blessed to have earned financial success," Rauner said in a prepared statement. "I’m driven by the challenge of business, the team-building aspect and the problem-solving, and I am passionate about giving back to the community. Capitalism is the greatest poverty-fighting machine in the history of mankind, and I’m proud of the role I’ve played in it."

Ownership stakes in three professional sports franchises: the Chicago Bulls, Pittsburgh Steelers and Boston Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox are this year's World Series champs.

“Illinoisans have been let down by too many politicians and deserve a governor they can trust to always put their interest first,” Rauner said in the statement. “That’s why I’m committed to establishing a blind trust if given the honor of being governor.

“I can’t be bought or intimidated by the special interests. As governor, I’ll be all about driving results for the people of Illinois,” he said.

Rauner's claim that he "can't be bought" may be a bit of a stretch for an Illinois politician. Given his wealth, what he possibly meant is he can't be bought cheaply.

Rauner's history of donations to political candidates and committees showed he was very much interested in buying and owning of elected officials and political party apparatus.

The day's biggest loser stands out alone in the crowd, is without any doubt is multi-millionaire Bruce Rauner, who is desperately trying to buy the governor's mansion. Rauner supported adoption of a 401k setup for retirees.

The Chicago Sun Times disputed Rauner's claim that the bill is a gift to "big union bosses." Part of Rauner's shtick is attacking "public unions. “The Sun Times said that the bill: Kicks ordinary working people — secretaries, clerks, teachers and the like — in the teeth."

Rauner is coming off as dishonest, who will say or do anything to win.

The plan is backfiring on Rauner. He is clearly just another Illinois rich guy trying to buy an elected office, with no core or soul, again much like that other multi-millionaire trying to buy an office, Mitt Romney.

According to Crain's Chicago Business, his official bio says, "Bruce has never let his success change him. He still drives a 20-year-old camper van, wears an $18 watch, and stays in the cheapest hotel room he can find when he's on the road."

The irony of all ironies is that much of Rauner's fortune was made managing public pension funds through his firm, GTCR LLC.

Rauner has for the past three decades invested in pension funds as a co-founder of GTCR LLC, a Chicago private-equity firm. Rauner even managed the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System and the Illinois State Board of Investment.

Rauner released his tax returns show he earned $53 million just in 2012 alone. Rauner owns eight homes. One of his eight homes across the country, from a 6,870-square-foot on a half-acre lot in Winnetka; two units, including a penthouse, in a luxury high-rise overlooking Millennium Park in downtown Chicago; 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. Or even a penthouse in a landmark co-op building along New York's Central Park.

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