In this July 9, 2013, photo Illinois Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner speaks to a gathering Republicans and business leaders at a stop on his Bring Back Illinois Tour in Quincy, Ill. Rauner, a former finance executive who’s worth close to $1 billion, is the star of a class of wealthy Republicans who take inspiration from Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who left the business world in 2010 to beat established Democrats in Democratic strongholds. (AP Photo/The Quincy Herald-Whig, Steve Bohnstedt)
CHICAGO (AP) — He has never been elected to anything, not even “student council in high school,” as he boasts. He has little patience for schmoozing. In dealing with people, he admits to being “pretty blunt” – more suited to running a large private equity firm, which Bruce Rauner did successfully for 30 years, than seeking votes for governor, which he intends to do in Illinois next year.
But the traits that might once have made Rauner a bust in politics are beginning to look like possible assets for a Republican in Illinois and for underdogs elsewhere across the increasingly polarized American political landscape. With three quarters of the states now dominated by one party or the other — the highest ratio in recent history — candidates from the other side often seem to have little chance on election day. In this environment, a handful of outsiders are gambling that the time is ripe for challengers who can break out of normal party mold.
Instead of political skills or experience, they have chutzpah – and a lot of money.