The Republican candidate for governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, really likes wine. You might enjoy a glass with dinner or to relax, but this guy really, really likes his wine. Expensive wine.
In an press conference, a reporter from WMAQ in Chicago, asked Rauner about his membership in an exclusive wine club. This seems to have been prompted by a picture in Sunday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune. As seen at the Chicago Tribune website, the picture — taken 4 years ago — shows Rauner walking behind Emmanuel who is carrying a bottle of Napa Valley Reserve.
The Napa Valley Reserve is a private club, currently numbering over 500 members. As described by the website:
The Membership structure is similar to most fine private clubs. Membership is non-equity and by invitation only; there is a membership deposit with two levels of Membership: Estate Vineyard Program and Designated Vineyard Program. In addition, Members receive an annual wine allocation of six to seventy-five cases.
The Napa Valley Reserve itself is a palatial (and very private) 80-acre estate where members can relax, taste wine and eat food prepared by world-renowned chefs. You can take a video tour here. Suffice it to say that this isn’t your neighborhood wine tasting spot. Membership, for those lucky enough to merit an invitation, is $140,000. That is the “deposit” for an upper level of membership; the one Bruce Rauner belongs to.
When Rauner was asked by the WMAQ reporter whether he belonged to the exclusive club, Rauner replied:
“I have many investments, I’m a member of many clubs.”
Fair enough. But that was not an answer. When he was pressed, Rauner managed to stutter out a “yes.” So Bruce Rauner is a member of a wine club that costs over twice as much to join than the average Illinois resident spends on pretty much everything they need to live for a year.
Meanwhile, in what detractors are calling a campaign stunt, current Governor Pat Quinn was taking the Minimum Wage Challenge. Quinn is living on the Illinois minimum wage of $8.25, which works out to $79 a week once housing, transportation and taxes are deducted. Quinn, who has pledged to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10/hour, told reporters:
“Had a banana for breakfast, that’s three days in a row. You know, you have to watch your pennies. I’m living this week, all seven days, on a minimum wage budget, it’s hard … Yesterday, I went to a place and maybe I would’ve gotten an iced tea, but I got a water. You don’t go in and get a double cheeseburger, I got a junior cheeseburger. I had graham crackers — for dinner I guess. I’m planning to have macaroni & cheese tonight. I already bought it.”
Quinn’s opponent has bragged that he is not a member of the 1% but of the “.01 percent.” Isn’t that charming? While the Democratic incumbent is living like many of his constituents live, his Republican opponent brags about being one of the richest people in the nation. I hope that the voters of Illinois are paying attention.
Here is the brief video of the exchange between the WMAQ reporter: