Rauner: Illinois will have 'good relationship' with Donald Trump

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said Wednesday he has friends in Donald Trump's new administration and expects Illinois "to have a voice and a good relationship" with the president-elect.

"I've had some good conversations with the new administration in Washington because I want to try to figure out, you know, work well together because I want Illinois to benefit from the changes that are going to come in Washington D.C. There's going to be some good changes coming," Rauner said, speaking to a group of business leaders in Springfield to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

Rauner spent the campaign season distancing himself from Trump — avoiding even mentioning his name — as Democrats tried to tie the former venture capitalist to the divisive presidential candidate. Trump lost Illinois but he performed better than Mitt Romney in conservative-leaning districts, where Republicans defeated four Democratic state House incumbents.

"Two of his most senior folks in his administration are good personal friends of mine, and allies of mine," Rauner said without naming them. "So we're going to have a voice and a good relationship."

A spokeswoman for the governor did not immediately respond to a question about who those people are.

Rauner said he spoke with Trump for the first time Friday afternoon and that it was a positive conversation.

The governor has spent the two years of his first term trying unsuccessfully to get majority Democrats to pass pro-business legislation and has repeatedly lamented the state's lackluster economy. In his January State of the State address, he cited Illinois' loss of manufacturing jobs as one of the reasons for economic decline.

"I'm hopeful that the new administration is going to be very pro-growth and very pro-manufacturing and bringing manufacturing back to America," Rauner said Wednesday. "I believe they're committed to doing that, and boy am I with them."