Who’s on Pritzker’s Springfield team?


The tightly buttoned J.B. Pritzker campaign has been almost silent about who the candidate talks to and who he’s likely to bring with him to Springfield should he win next week’s gubernatorial election, as is widely expected. The standard statement from both the Democratic nominee and his spokeswoman has been that he’s focused on Nov. 6 and will get to everything else later.
Still, the chatter has begun. So, I’ve spent a few days calling around. Here’s what I hear:
The most obvious choices are veterans of the campaign who like the boss and his goals and might want to stay around.
The campaign manager is Anne Caprara, a former top hand for Emily’s List, the big women’s political group, and ex-executive director of Priorities USA, a super-PAC that backed Clinton. She’s run a solid campaign, but it’s not clear she has any desire to move into government after a career in the precincts.
Possibly more likely to move to government is former Clinton labor outreach director Nikki Budzinski. A former president of Illini Democrats, she is a senior campaign adviser and would be a solid choice for a policy slot. Ditto scheduler Mary Urbani, political director Sean Rapelyea and Mike Alexander, a former staffer to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin who’s been around the campaign a lot. Campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen also may have a continuing role.
Some outside names also come up, including state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago, a veteran House member who ran for Congress several years back and lost to Mike Quigley.
Manar’s name came up a lot in my calls, and for good reason: He has excellent legislative ties as former chief of staff to Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, comes from downstate and was chief sponsor of the new education aid package. In other words, he has the inside knowledge of how state government works that Pritzker lacks. He might work as state school superintendent, budget director or even chief of staff.  But Manar is having to fight very hard for re-election—so hard that Pritzker might really, really have to lean on him to take the job.
Also mentioned for chief of staff is Steven Collens, who was J.B. Pritzker’s chief of staff at the Pritzker Group and played a key role in putting together the 1871 tech incubator.  He now runs health care incubator Matter.
Then there’s a third group: People who insiders say Pritzker often consults, who are more likely to form a kitchen cabinet of sorts rather than taking full-time gigs.
At the top of the list: lieutenant governor running mate Rep. Juliana Stratton. As lite gov, Stratton won’t have many official jobs, but Pritzker can deputize her to do any number of things. I hear the relationship is solid.
Other advisors: Lee Rosenberg, a former head of AIPAC, the influential Jewish political group, the current chief of staff at the Pritzker Group and the man who headed Pritzker’s gubernatorial exploratory committee before he announced his candidacy. Also: Rahm Emanuel confidant Michael Sacks, who’s been involved in several Springfield roles in recent years; Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil, and data guru David Shor.
Should Pritzker win, there of course will be a list of job hunters out the door and around the block.  But right now, those listed above seem to be at least the core of the core.

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via Crain’s Chicago Business

October 31, 2018 at 10:36AM

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