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Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 12:20 am

Free to be Bruce

PHOTO BY ALAN SOLOMON/TNS
Every time Gov. Bruce Rauner gives a major speech, social media (and even mass media) lights him up over the way he drops his “g’s” at the end of words.

He’s workin’ and doin’ his best and shakin’ up Springfield, or whatever.

Last year, after his first State of the State Address, Illinois Public Radio even interviewed a language expert about whether he was doin’ this on purpose.

It does seem contrived. Rauner was educated at Ivy League schools, after all, and worked in some of the highest echelons in business. If you listen to any of his speeches in the years before he ran for governor, you’ll notice that he talked back then like an educated Midwesterner.

Anyway, Gov. Rauner asked me over to the Executive Mansion for a chat after last Wednesday’s State of the State Address.

It wasn’t exactly an honor. He wanted me to come by so he and I could have it out after he said something false about me at a press conference.

He held the presser to unveil an executive order consolidating information technology services into a single state agency. It was a fairly non-controversial announcement about a much-needed governmental upgrade.

I was actually kinda bored listening on the Internet until the governor was asked about some state revenue projections that he sent to legislators several months ago and shared with me earlier this month. Rauner’s own projections were based on what would happen if the governor got his economic agenda passed. The memo to legislators was designed to build support for (or at least, defend) his controversial pro-business agenda.

I published Rauner’s projection of a $510 million revenue increase, which I thought insufficient to justify all this impasse-related carnage. As I pointed out, the governor’s numbers meant he was aiming for a mere 1.4 percent revenue increase over Fiscal Year 2015.

“The author of the Capitol Fax has his numbers way, way wrong and we will be discussin’ that in our budget address,” Rauner told reporters, even though I simply used Rauner’s own numbers.

“I will also point out,” Rauner continued, “that the author of that blog used to work for Speaker Madigan, so I don’t want to put too much credence in the commentary.”

What an absolute, total crock.

I was a House page for two or three weeks way back in 1985. My tenure may not have even been that long because the House wasn’t in session while I was a page and I quit before they came back to town for a job on my college campus.

I wish I could tell you what happened at my subsequent meeting with Rauner, but I can’t because it was completely off the record. As he told reporters, Rauner will be issuing revised projections. Total increased revenue and state and local government savings, he believes, are about $6 billion.

I can, however, tell you a story because I cleared it with the governor the next day.

At one point during our discussion I decided to lighten the mood a little and asked him what the dealio was with all those dropped g’s, teasing him that he sounded like somebody attempting to imitate a hillbilly. That got a big laugh, particularly from Mrs. Rauner.

The governor said he now feels “free” to be himself since he was elected. Mrs. Rauner agreed that his public wardrobe has drastically deteriorated since election day, as has his grammar.

Gov. Rauner told me he couldn’t talk like he wanted and wear what he wanted when he was a businessman because nobody would want to do business with him. At one point, he said, his business partners even asked him not to drive his lousy old car to company outings because it was an embarrassment to them.

Rauner said he was the only partner at his firm who didn’t own a private jet and fancy cars. He said he’s “proud” to still have the first tie he ever bought.

So all of that video and audio of him speaking years ago was actually the contrived Rauner, the governor said. Now, he just wants to be himself, and that means droppin’ his g’s and doin’ other stuff like wearin’ the clothes he likes, not the clothes others expect him to don.

Anyway, it’s not exactly earth-shattering stuff, but I thought you’d be interested because this does give us some insight into how the governor thinks.

First, if you really get him angry he will throw you under the bus with Madigan. And second, he will happily and unselfconsciously drop his g’s while he does it. 

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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