The State of Illinois Has Hope, and Needs Change

Illinois is where I was born and where I reside.  It’s a pretty easy state to make fun of once you get outside the city of Chicago.  Flat.  Lots of farming.  Corn, beans and hogs.  When you flyover from east to west, it doesn’t take a lot of time.  Flying from north to south takes longer.   Since 2007, we have built a pretty robust startup community here.  Chicago is a great city.  Every day I walk around here I am transfixed by its beauty. The buildings, the lake.  But the people here are what makes it special.  It would be really hard for me to leave-but I was certainly considering it.  Illinois is a fiscal mess.

Last night, Bruce Rauner, the candidate I supported for Governor of Illinois won.  A normal career Republican could not have won this election.  In Illinois, I think we invented career politicians.  Both parties have them.   John Kass of the Chicago Tribune writes about Democrat Boss Madigan.  I suggest you read it.  Of course, there is the Democratic Daley legacy in the city of Chicago.  50 years of the same family running the city.  Funny thing is if you read Professor Don Miller’s book, City of the Century, you will learn that it’s always been this way.  The Republicans of the late 1800’s weren’t a lot different than the Democrats of today.

Rauner is the only one that has a chance to break history.

I have met him a couple of times, and he is different one on one than he is on the stump.  He is smart, and you can tell he is a great leader.  Most often, businessmen don’t make great political stump speeches because they mean what they say. It’s hard to make the transition from business to politics.  I think Bruce will do well because he is used to putting a lot of disparate pieces together to make a meaningful whole.  That’s often what a professional investor has to do.

Will he be good at politics?  The good news is Rauner is going in with eyes wide open-and he has a mandate from the people of Illinois to get things done.  Anytime an Illinois Republican does as well as he did in a statewide election, it’s a mandate.   How else do we know he has a mandate?  The Illinois state legislature is no longer a Democratic super majority is still a Dem supermajority (thanks gerrymandering!).  Illinois Republicans also won head to head races for other statewide offices.

Bruce will have to get better at delivering his message extemporaneously and figuring out the best way to get it delivered through the liberal mainstream media.  That’s a piece of politics that is very hard for anyone to master. Reporters were ticked they had to pay for drinks at his soiree last night, but I see that as a good thing.  There are too many free lunches for cronies in Illinois.

Last week at Stocktoberfest, Bill Gurtin was on the stage.  He runs a $9.2 billion dollar muni-bond portfolio.  Howard Lindzon asked Bill, “Are there any muni-bonds you absolutely wouldn’t buy today?”  Bill didn’t hesitate when he responded.  “Puerto Rico and Illinois, only two places I would not buy a muni bond.”

Illinois pensions are billions and billions in debt.  Illinois voters are not dumb.  Rauner gave them credit for that.  The pension liability is bigger than people really know because the state doesn’t account for the rate of return or the actual liability correctly.  Wirepoints has chronicled that.  Rauner has consistently gotten great rates of return for his investors.  Hopefully, he will get the next 8 years to straighten Illinois out.  Illinois voters knew for certain if the state continued down the current path, Illinois was headed for total destruction.  That pension debt could destroy the startup community we have tried to build here.

Now we have a chance to turn things around, and maybe even break the chain of history.

thanks for the link Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.



My wife makes a good point.  With gerrymandering, Illinois Democrats retained power in Illinois.  In Cook County, Democrats ran unopposed-just like a totalitarian regime.  The big question is after yesterday, do Democrats still support redistricting via CHANGEIllinois?  Prior to the election many did.