Two months into office, Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s approval rating is just 36.5 percent, according to a Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll, released on March 20,2015. In the 2014 midterm election, Rauner rode the Republican national wave into office, ousting Democratic Incumbent Governor Pat Quinn. He spent 26 million dollars of his own money in the race. Rauner defeated Quinn in 101 of Illinois’ 102 counties, losing only Chicago’s Cook County, en route to a 50-46 statewide victory.
For Rauner, the honeymoon has been short-lived. Voters have discovered that, surprise, surprise, Rauner governs like a Republican. He governs exactly on the principles he campaigned on, but voters who stayed home, or who simply decided they wanted change for change’s sake, now seem disappointed that the Republican Governor is doing what Republicans do.
Upon taking office, Rauner rescinded seven executive orders put forth by his predecessor, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. Rauner, a multimillionaire, eliminated an order requiring the Governor to disclose his income taxes by May. He also overturned an order that raised the minimum wage for employees of vendors that contract with the state, to ten dollars an hour.
None of these actions should come as a surprise, since in December of 2013, Rauner spoke explicitly in favor of lowering the state’s minimum wage. Not just freezing it, but lowering it. After a public backlash, he backtracked on his position favoring lowering the minimum wage. Still, any discerning voter should have been able to tell where his heart was. It was not with Illinois’ working families or with members of the state’s low-wage work force.
Rauner’s right-wing ideology is at odds with most of the state’s residents. A strong majority of Illinois voters (62 percent), voted in support of increasing the minimum wage to 10 dollars an hour in November. Yet, many of them, inexplicably, contradicted themselves by also voting for Rauner.
In addition to being an opponent of raising the minimum wage, Rauner, predictably, also favors spending cuts. Naturally, he also steadfastly opposes passing any tax increases on the wealthy.
Rauner’s 36.5 percent approval rating suggests that voter’s in Illinois have some regrets about electing a conservative Governor. In fairness, 23 percent of voters in Illinois have no opinion about their new Governor, so his approval rating is still hovering above the 31.4 percent who outright disapprove of his job performance.
Nevertheless, the fact that just two months into office, only a little over a third of the state’s voters are happy with the job he is doing, should serve as a reminder to voters that elections have consequences. Voters who choose to stay home on election day, or who simply cast a ballot for a Republican, because they are tired of the Democrats, need to assess the ramifications of their decisions. Because as the people of Illinois are finding out, two months after a Republican takes over, most people are not happy with the way he governs.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.