Half-dozen Kirk staffers move over to Rauner

  • Republican Bruce Rauner, top center, spoke during a campaign rally at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, left. More than a half dozen of Kirk's former aides are moving onto Rauner's staff.

      Republican Bruce Rauner, top center, spoke during a campaign rally at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, left. More than a half dozen of Kirk's former aides are moving onto Rauner's staff. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/12/2015 6:46 PM

As Republican Bruce Rauner takes over the vast state government, he'll have the help of more than a half-dozen top staff who used to work for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

Rauner's chief of staff, Mike Zolnierowicz, worked as the Highland Park Republican's deputy chief of staff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And three of Rauner's four deputy chiefs of staff, as well as his downstate director, are alumni of Kirk's office, too.

Former Kirk deputy chief of staff Richard Goldberg will handle Rauner's dealings with lawmakers, former Kirk senior adviser Aaron Winters will handle policy, and former Kirk staff member Kelley Folino will handle outreach.

With his 2010 victory for U.S. Senate, Kirk was the most recent GOP Illinoisan to win at the top of the ticket, and therefore provided something of a blueprint for Rauner to follow to victory in November.

Now, Kirk faces re-election next year with some of his top staff members working for Rauner.

Asked why Rauner found value in Kirk staffers, a spokesman didn't address the question directly.

Rauner "believes all of the individuals hired into the administration represent a diverse group from both the private and public sector with a broad swath of knowledge of many different public policy areas," spokesman Lance Trover, a Kirk alumnus, said in a statement.

Rauner also has three top staff members who once worked for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a buisiness-oriented Republican who Rauner often names as a role model. They include David Wu, who in the new Illinois administration will hold the title "director of government transformation."

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