Bruce Rauner isn’t just running for governor in 2014. The uber-wealthy hedge fund manager also is trying to get a constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot that would limit the terms of state officials.

Under his plan, members of the House and Senate would be limited to eight years in office in what he calls an attempt to oust so-called “career politicians.”

Rauner, a newcomer to state politics who has voted and contributed to politicians on both sides of the partisan aisle, has formed a political action committee for his pet project that has quickly received more than $200,000 in contributions.

Most of the money, however, is coming from just two sources. Former Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell contributed $100,000 to the cause. Howie Rich, a wealthy Philadelphia businessman and conservative activist also plunked down $100,000.

Rich has been beating the drum for term limits since the early 1990s. And, it turns out, he sort of pays attention to Illinois politics.

In 2008, he wrote a blog post focusing on the Rod Blagojevich scandal, calling on readers to demand more open government from their leaders.

When it comes to term limits, however, experts say it may not be workable in a large and diverse state like Illinois.

Political scientist Chris Mooney, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, said the ultimate effect of having a so-called “citizen legislature” is that it gives a lot more power to the executive branch.

“If you want to have a citizen legislature, live in New Hampshire. Live in Arkansas. Live in West Virginia. Those are states whose legislatures meet just a couple of months out of the year. These states don’t need to have people year-round; there are just not as many complicated problems there,” he said in a recent interview.

“Illinois is a big state. It’s as big as some significant countries. And even though we don’t have foreign policy to deal with, we do have a wide variety of public problems,” Mooney continued.

He said Texas is the lone example of a comparable state has a citizen legislature.

“The legislature in Texas meets every other year, so the executive branch ends up dominating the state. That’s what would happen if we had a citizen legislature in Illinois; the governor would be a lot stronger,” Mooney said.

After George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, that’s definitely something to think about.

Race for treasurer

Republican Tom Cross of Oswego formally announced last week his plans to run for state treasurer.

As it stands now, the former House minority leader will face off against DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan in the GOP primary next March. The winner likely will face state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign.

“I want to move Illinois in a new direction by serving as a good steward of the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars and ensuring they are invested carefully and judiciously,” Cross said in a fundraising plea to supporters.

The mitten connection

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, unveiled Maria Rodriguez as his running mate last week in the race to become Illinois’ next governor.

Not only has Rodriguez served as mayor of Long Grove, located 35 miles northwest of Chicago, but she and her husband own an alpaca farm.

She’s not the only one running for statewide office who has experience with animals used to make sweaters.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who also is running for governor, once kept a herd of sheep on his property in Livingston County.

Drop out Daley

First, Attorney General Lisa Madigan decided not to run for governor against Pat Quinn.

Then, last week, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley scuttled his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, leaving Quinn a clear path to win his party’s nomination in March. The governor may be considered by some a weak candidate, but he’s also supremely lucky.

Controlling the message

A social media organization has launched a new online tool designed to make it easier for Illinoisans to get the organization’s message to local lawmakers.

Reboot Illinois’ new “Sound Off” tool allows users to identify their state lawmaker and asks whether they want to send a pre-written letter to the politician on subjects ranging from cutting pension benefits to increasing the minimum wage.

The tool is available at www.RebootIllinois.com.

Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@ lee.net.

(6) comments

Proud Conservative
Proud Conservative

I support term limits in general, but have no illusion they'd work in Illinois. Our low information voter population would just have more chances to prove their ignorance.

Jose
Jose

Cheer up, PC. Not everyone votes Rethug, but those who do (LIVs) create yet another festering cesspool of lack of accountability and self-aggrandizing behavior.

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." ~JFK

jaguar717
jaguar717

Isn't the "festering cesspool of lack of accountability and self-aggrandizing behavior" in Illinois called Chicago? I wasn't aware they even allowed Republicans there. Maybe there's one hiding somewhere who made it that way?

I_dont_care_2
I_dont_care_2

Back in the early 90's, before he was a career politician, Pat Quinn was for Term Limits. I remember getting petitions from him, getting signatures, and sending them back to him. So Pat Quinn was for Term Limits until he wasn't!!

Question Everything
Question Everything

“The legislature in Texas meets every other year, so the executive branch ends up dominating the state. That’s what would happen if we had a citizen legislature in Illinois; the governor would be a lot stronger,” Mooney said. How does someone who claims to be an educator in Political Science, make such an unsubstantiated leap? Those states have their legislatures set up that way because they wanted it that way. There is nothing in term limits that dictate any changes in the legislatures schedule or anything else. Glad I never had him as a professor.

12for10cents
12for10cents

If term limits won't work - how about prison? Oh, the threat of prison hasn't helped clean up IL politics either. So how about exile? Complete with a one-way ticket to Burma, it would be cheaper for the taxpayer. All politicians are nothing but self-serving sociopaths who deserve no sympathy and even less respect. They were supposed to be working for the people, instead all they did is make promises, take big donor money and screw the people over - again and again and again and again. May as well toss those donors on the boat too. Decent society doesn't need them either.

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