• Fred Zwicky
  • Republican Bruce Rauner wants your vote for governor—or else.

You’ve probably heard about Dave McKinney, the well-respected political reporter who resigned from the Sun-Times because he didn’t feel the paper’s owners went far enough in defending him against an assault on his integrity by Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor.

If you somehow missed the story, Rauner’s campaign accused McKinney of having a conflict of interest because his wife is a Democratic political strategist.

“It was a last-ditch act of intimidation,” McKinney wrote in his resignation letter.

The sordid episode raises an important question: Just how does Rauner compare with other political bullies in Chicago? After all, this is a city with an impressive tradition of threats, retaliation, and naked power plays—all in the name of democracy, of course.

The answer is that Rauner has made quite a showing. Here’s a list of our top ten bullies from recent times:

10. Alderman Ray Suarez: Perhaps the City Council’s most esteemed grump, Suarez routinely rips mid-level city officials at committee hearings for whatever half-baked idea they’ve brought forward on the mayor’s behalf—and then he cheerfully votes for it while praising the mayor.

9. The Carothers clan: The west-side family, most recently led by former alderman Ike Carothers, could always be counted on to rip down opponents’ signs, intimidate election judges, and brawl with foes on Election Day. After a stint in prison, Ike says he’s mellowed, but here’s predicting that he’ll be involved in the February elections even though his name won’t be on the ballot.

8. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange: In 2011 the CME’s leaders, civically minded as always, threatened to leave Chicago for Indiana in an attempt to bully the state into giving them a tax break. They were successful. We’ll thank state house speaker Michael Madigan on their behalf.

7. Former mayor Jane Byrne: In 1980, a year after she was elected on promises of reform, Byrne threatened to evict the Tribune‘s Robert Davis from his desk in the City Hall press room in a fit of retribution over a long-forgotten story—which Davis didn’t even write.

6. Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez: Shortly before the 2012 NATO summit Alvarez made international headlines by charging a group of knucklehead anarchists with plotting terrorist acts. When the case finally came to trial this year, jurors didn’t buy it: they convicted the NATO 3 of the lesser charge of mob action for making Molotov cocktails, allegedly at the instigation of undercover police officers.

5. Former governor Rod Blagojevich: Our most recently convicted governor went to prison for demanding campaign contributions from businesses looking for contracts with the state. He’d be higher on this distinguished list if he hadn’t failed in his apparent attempt to bully former Tribune owner Sam Zell into firing an editorial writer in exchange for supporting Wrigley Field renovations.

4. Alderman Ed Burke: In 2007 Burke used his power, connections, and money to try forcing challenger Paloma Andrade off the ballot—even though it was his first opponent in 36 years and the mother of four had exactly zero chance of unseating him. The case tied up Andrade for most of the campaign, which Burke ended up winning with almost 90 percent of the vote.

3. Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Somehow the mayor was skiing in Utah last year when his underlings announced his decision to close 50 schools. OK, that’s not so much bullying as wussing out. But he still deserves to be on the list for mapping Alderman Robert Fioretti out of his ward for the high crime of occasionally voting against the mayor’s proposals.

2. Former mayor Richard M. Daley: As you might recall, Daley once tore up Meigs Field in the middle of the night. And declared that opponents of his plan for more Walmart stores were racists. And repealed the city’s ban on foie gras with a parliamentary trick while shutting off the mike of an opponent who tried to protest. And maybe even threatened to shoot one of us for asking a question at a press conference. And . . . well, you get the point.

1. Republican governor hopeful Bruce Rauner: Bruce has succeeded where even Blago failed, complaining to the Sun-Times management until McKinney was pulled from his beat for a week. He was covering Rauner’s alleged bullying of a former employee.

The Reader and the Sun-Times are owned by the same people, which Rauner undoubtedly knows, since he used to be one of the owners too. But he shouldn’t bother coming after us next, because he’s already climbed to the top of the bully list.