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Good night for private equity candidates

Remember Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the ripple effects the negative campaigning had on the private equity industry? Last night might have been a bit of vindication when it comes to politics and private equity.

At least three candidates with private equity backgrounds appear to have emerged victorious in governor’s races yesterday. Bruce Rauner, former chairman of GTCR, is the projected winner in the governor’s race in Illinois, defeating incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn. (As of this morning, Quinn had not conceded defeat). Rauner has faced months of political attacks on his private equity past, similar to what Romney endured in 2012.

In Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, former executive-in-residence at General Catalyst, was the projected winner over Democrat Martha Coakley for the governor’s seat. Baker’s campaign hit some controversy when officials in New Jersey started an investigation into a political contribution he made to the state’s Republican party months before New Jersey’s state pension committed money to General Catalyst. New Jersey ended up selling the General Catalyst LP position.

And in Rhode Island, Democrat Gina Raimondo became the state’s first female governor after defeating challengers, including Republican Allan Fung. Raimondo co-founded venture firm Point Judith Capital. Despite her Democrat affiliation, Raimondo has been attacked by organized labor, a traditional ally of Democrats, for her work on reforming the state’s pension system, including raising the retirement age and cutting cost-of-living adjustments, according to Reuters.

In another interesting governor’s race, Republican Nathan Deal was re-elected in Georgia. Deal signed legislation in 2012 allowing the state’s pension funds (except the teachers’ pension) to invest in private equity. Georgia had been a notable holdout among U.S. pensions investing in private equity. Georgia’s program has been slowly moving into the asset class, though it’s hard to determine what that program looks like because of state laws restricting public access.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.