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Bernard Schoenburg

A ‘rigged’ campaign? Big rig finds a place at Rauner event

Governor hopes to keep on truckin' to a second term

Governor hopes to keep on truckin' to a second term

Gov. Bruce Rauner not only named Raymond Poe his Department of Agriculture director, he has now picked up a campaign tactic from the former state representative.

It worked with mixed results for Poe, but the governor hopes to keep on truckin’ right back into the governor’s office.

An 18-wheeler with an American flag motif on the cab and trailer wrapped in Rauner campaign blue, including the “Home is Worth Fighting For” slogan, has been provided to Rauner’s team by Poe Enterprises. That’s a farming and catering operation in which Poe is still a shareholder.

Poe told me at the Governor’s Day rally at the Illinois State Fair – where the truck was parked on the road in the director’s lawn area as Rauner and others delivered their speeches nearby – that expense of the signage on the truck is shared by Rauner supporter Jason Fletcher of Athens.

Way back in 1993, as Republicans were still reeling from the surprising and convincing 1992 win of Democrat Vickie Moseley in the old 99th Illinois House District, Poe emerged as a potential candidate against her in 1993 with the placement of a couple of trucks he owns in visible locations with “Think Poe” painted on them.

At Springfield’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1994, Poe’s float was a giant truck featuring his name.

“Trucks don’t vote,” Moseley said at the time. But Poe ended up defeating Moseley that year.

In 2005 – when lieutenant governors were still nominated without being paired on tickets with governor candidates – Poe set out for the 2006 GOP nomination for the second spot. For that race, he rigged an 18-wheeler as a mobile barbecue, providing meals along the campaign trail.

As I wrote back then, when in Chicago, “he wasn’t allowed to take his full-size truck to (a) Lincoln Park event, so he brought a smaller trailer.”

Poe ended up giving in to wishes of people including then-GOP House Leader Tom Cross, who urged Poe to drop out of the lieutenant governor race and run again for the House to make sure the seat stayed Republican. Poe ended up remaining in the General Assembly through late 2015, when named by Rauner to the agriculture post.

As Capitol Fax pointed out, the Rauner campaign this week is touring the state.

The campaign says the 5-day, 21-stop “fight for what’s right” tour included stops Monday in Mount Sterling, Rushville, Macomb, Monmouth and Lincoln.

“Each day, he will make stops throughout the state speaking with voters,” according to the campaign. “At least one stop per day will be accompanied by Bruce’s BBQ Big Rig, a tractor-trailer outfitted to serve BBQ to attendees at the events.”

Poe, back on Governor’s Day, said a big truck can be good for a campaign.

“Just driving up and down the interstate, and going to parades and all that kind of thing gets your name ID out there,” he said.

While the truck signage lists things including “more jobs,” “lower taxes” and “end corruption,” the Democratic Governors Association issued a news release listing consequences of the 2-year budget impasse, which ended last summer, on communities on the tour. The release was headlined: “Rauner brings tractor-trailer filled with failure. ...”

A ‘rigged’ campaign? Big rig finds a place at Rauner event Bernard Schoenburg: Poe's firm provides big rig to Rauner campaign7ebcdce9-5374-4bda-b983-133ffa9f1a4c/image-pv_web.jpgshaw-push-component-1