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The tale of two governors

By David Wildstein, March 21 2018 1:05 pm

The New Jersey angle to last night’s Illinois gubernatorial primary: the governors of Illinois and New Jersey were friends until they weren’t.

As chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) in 2014, Chris Christie was a strong supporter of Bruce Rauner, a millionaire businessman who unseated Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.  Christie served as Rauner’s attack dog during campaign stops in Chicago and Springfield.  The RGA spent $2.5 million in Illinois.

But within Rauner’s first five months in office, the relationship between the two governors went south.  Rauner called New Jersey a disaster and said he didn’t want Illinois to go down the same path.

“They’re going down the drain, and they ain’t turning it around,” Rauner said in May 2015.  He later dialed back his remarks, saying they weren’t meant to be a shot at Christie, then a presidential candidate.  Rauner’s denial seemed a bit incredible.

Rauner didn’t endorse Christie – or anyone else – in 2016.

In 2014, Rauner raised more than $81,000 from individual New Jersey donors.  In 2018, with Rauner winning a Republican primary with just 51% of the vote, his total dollars from New Jersey was zero.

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