SPRINGFIELD-Venture capitalist Bruce Rauner moved a step closer toward running for governor by announcing Tuesday he is forming an exploratory campaign committee and embarking on a 60-day "listening tour" across the state.
"Near the bottom in the nation in unemployment and tax rates. Worst in the country in debt and credit ratings. Rampant corruption in government. Failing schools and violent crime that destroy the future of too many of our children," he said in a prepared statement.
"We need major changes in the way we tax and spend, the way we treat businesses and workers, the way we deal with our state budget and pensions, and the way we run our schools. The political class in Springfield [is] either unwilling to, or incapable of, making the kind of changes we need," he said. "That's why I'm considering running for governor."
Rauner, who first floated his name for 2014 three years ago, is an investor in the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times, Wrapports LLC, and is part of an already crowded field of Republicans eying a 2014 bid for the Executive Mansion.
Among those also weighing a possible gubernatorial run are state Treasurer Dan Rutherford; state Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), the 2010 GOP nominee for governor; state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale); U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.); and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.).
A poll commissioned last November by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm had Rauner at the bottom of the pack among potential 2014 Republican candidates for governor, drawing support from 7 percent of the poll's respondents.
Rauner's exploratory committee is stocked with prominent Chicago business leaders, including Miles White, chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories and also a Wrapports investor; James Kenny, former U.S. ambassador to Ireland and former owner of Kenny Construction; Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel; Jack Roeser, founder of Otto Engineering; and John Rowe, former CEO of Exelon Corp.