SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — After a stunning set-back featuring Republican defections, Governor Bruce Rauner is facing more upheaval among his own staff. WGN Investigates has learned the governor’s communications director Lance Trover and press secretary Cate Kelly are heading for the door. Both previously indicated their desire to leave for other opportunities. A source says Trover’s last day in the office was Friday.
“Rauner used to emulate the middle that [House Speaker Michael] Madigan forgot,” said a source close to the governor. “Instead he’s moving to the extreme just like Madigan.”
Rauner has taken a sharp turn to the right in recent days after losing key votes to Madigan, including a 32% income tax increase. Incoming chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen comes from the conservative Illinois Policy Institute. She seems inclined to replace Rauner’s team with more “true believers.” It comes as Rauner faces another crucial fight on school funding. As another insider said: “They have a huge fight on school funding ahead of them and they are being thrown into the deep end of the pool.”
There’s a sense among some Rauner loyalists that the governor, discouraged by defeat in the Illinois legislature, is now being influenced to go to the right rather than the middle. “It was one thing when nobody cared what they have to say it will be interesting to see how they perform outside the simulator,” an insider said.