Bruce Rauner is an American businessman and politician, currently serving as the 42nd Governor of Illinois. He took office in 2015 after winning the general election over Democratic nominee Pat Quinn. The results ran close, with both surpassing the other several times during the counting of votes. However, Quinn lost the elections by only four perfect. With this, the governor’s seat in Illinois returned back to the Republican Party after 12 long years. Having great experience in trade and capital, he always seemed a more favorable candidate right from the start, even though he was running elections against a strong competitor. But since Quinn was unable to undo the “indecisive” tag attached to his name, it paved the way for Rauner. His strong view on promotion of public charter schools and education has rendered him a philanthropist in public eyes. From a valet to a wealthy business, his journey has been inspirational to many Americans. His grit and determination has helped him cross several milestones in life. With all he has achieved until now, he still holds onto his humble beginning as the grandson of a dairyman, and uses it as a beacon to encourage others to be visionaries.
Childhood & Early life
Bruce Rauner was born in Chicago on 18 February 1957. He spent all his childhood in Deerfield, Illinois. His mother Ann Erickson came from a meek dwelling; she was the daughter of a Swedish dairyman, and a nurse by profession. His father Vincent Joseph Rauner was a lawyer.
He grew up along with his brothers, Christopher and Mark and his sister, Paula. Since Ann was Swedish and Vincent was German, their children grew up in mixed culture.
As a child, he shared a close bond with his grandfather, who taught him skills like fishing and hunting. He also taught him the value of hard work and benevolence.
At 10, he held a rifle for the first time. He also learnt about the environment. While in school he took keen interest in environmental studies.
In order to pursue higher studies, he took up odd jobs to fund his education. He left home and joined Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. While studying for his bachelor’s degree, he used to flip burgers and park cars for a living.
He wanted to graduate as an environmental scientist but during an economics class, he realized that economics and business was real life. If he earned sufficient money, he could fund environmental concerns.
He went on to graduate with highest honours from Dartmouth in 1978. He rented a place in Lincoln Park along with fellow classmates, where he slept on a rubber mattress as there was no furniture.
He worked for a year at the Economic Forecasting Firm Data Resources in Chicago before earning an MBA degree from Harvard.
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Taking Over the Business World
After completing his masters, he was contemplating to convert his part-time job at Bain & Company into a full-time one. But just around the same time he received a call from Stanley Golder offering him to join his startup investment company. Golder, along with his colleagues, Thoma and Cressey were looking to expand. He joined Golder as America was then experiencing an economic boom, and in three years he became a partner in the company.
Rauner employed young graduates from the best of business colleges, and soon Golder took the back seat, making Bruce take over majorly and the firm changed to Golder Thoma Cressey Rauner (GTCR).
It is during this phase that he slipped into the philanthropic shoes of Stanley Golder and considered him a father figure in his life.
He took the company to great heights taking the responsibility of value retirement investments of teachers, and Illinois workers, before he retired from GTCR in 2012.
From Business to Politics
As a first time nominee for Governor and a new face in politics, Bruce wasn’t favoured by ex-Republican Jim Edgar. Yet he went on to win the general elections on 4th November, 2014.
He stood for elections choosing City Council woman, Evelyn Sanguinetti as his running mate. His propaganda was to streamline the government, creating better business climate and improving the education system.
He campaigned on changing systems and issues such as minimum wage, tax policy, transportation and infrastructure, regressive power of unions, abortion and voting.
Yet he deliberately spoke of issues in general and hardly provided any details and measures he would take specifically, as it could have turned down votes from either parties.
As Governor, he blocked “Fair share” union fees on 9th February, 2015. Later that month he proposed a four billion in budget cuts that affect medical aid, higher education, pension and public transit.
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Owing to lack of resources, he announced the suspension of Illiana Tollway project, which had been debated for a while.
In June 2015, he also vetoed the state budget until trade union power was reduced and property taxes were frozen. However, this could in future cause a backlog of over 25 billion dollars.
Owing to turmoil in June, 2016 he signed a temporary stopgap budget. Though it covered only 65 percent of social services. He also confirmed that he would run for second term as Governor in the 2018 general elections.
He has aided and supported projects of Chicago’s Red Cross regional headquarters, new charter schools, scholarships for disadvantaged public school students and compensations for teachers and principals in Chicago Public Schools.
He funded the construction of ‘Rauner Special Collections Library’ at Dartmouth College and donated the biggest sum for ‘Stanley Golder Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance’ at the University of Illinois.
Keeping his word, he has offered financial help to better the environment, and serves in the board of ‘National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’.
Awards & Achievements
He received the Daley Medal in 2003, for his contribution towards supporting Illinois economy from ‘Illinois Venture Capital Association’.
He was also awarded the ‘Corporate Growth’s Lifetime Achievement Award’. Along with his wife, he was nominated for Golden Apple Foundation’s ‘Community Service Award’ in 2011.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Elizabeth Konker Wessel in 1980. The two, however, separated in 1990 while the divorce was finalized in 1993. he has three children from this marriage.
While still married to his first wife, Bruce is rumored to have had an affair with Diana Mendley, which led to separation from his first wife. Bruce got married to Mendley in 1994, and they had three children soon after – Margret, Matthew and Katherine. Their family currently resides in a mansion in Springfield.
During his campaign, he spent over 26 million dollars of his money in advertisements and magazines to garner votes.