Gov. Rauner staff shakeups continue

CHICAGO — A Republican strategist who was expected to lead Gov Bruce Rauner’s 2018 re-election campaign has left his position days after Rauner replaced top employees with staff from a conservative think tank.

Mike Zolnierowicz was an architect of Rauner’s 2014 campaign. He also served as Rauner’s chief of staff before resigning in 2016 to work as chief strategic adviser for Illinois GOP political operations. XPS Professional Services announced Friday that Zolnierowicz is leaving that role to lead XPS’ political operation.

The move comes after Rauner overhauled his staff in the wake of a legislative defeat, hiring leaders of the Illinois Policy Institute to high-level positions, including chief of staff.

Rauner is scoffing at the idea that he’s shaking his staff up because Democrats overrode his veto of their budget. He told the Chicago Sun-Times it’s “baloney” to suggest he fired several members of his senior staff, because none of his pet projects were passed. The comment came amid more changes Friday.

Rauner let go key members of his policy team, and Eleni Demertzis, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, also resigned Friday.

A Rauner campaign spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.