Gov. J.B. Pritzker has dropped $35.4 million into his campaign committee, and while he’s avoided officially confirming a re-election bid in 2022, his campaign themes are already coming together.
Asked about when the governor might formally announce or whether such a large donation should be viewed as a sign Pritzker is worried about his chances, campaign spokesman Quentin Fulks said in an email, “Given the increasing number of Republicans who have declared their candidacies for governor in 2022, Gov. Pritzker wanted to ensure that he was ready to respond to their false and misleading attacks if necessary.”
A handful of Republicans have already tossed their name in for the 2022 race: state Sen. Darren Bailey, businessman Gary Rabine, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf and Christopher Roper, a downstate resident.
“Over the past two years, the governor has led Illinois through a global pandemic by listening to the experts, not the anti-science conspiracy theorists currently running in the Republican primary, while improving the lives of millions of Illinoisans through his actions,” Fulks said, also citing other Pritzker accomplishments on infrastructure spending, health care, and women’s rights.
The cash infusion to that committee, JB for Governor, was reported on the Illinois State Board of Elections Friday night, but the donation was made a week earlier, on March 12. In recent days, during interviews marking the anniversary of state’s first COVID death, Pritzker has demurred about his political future.
“My focus really has just been keeping people healthy, safe and keeping the economy going,” Pritzker told NPR Illinois on March 16. “The politics will take care of itself in the end.”
It’s almost four years to the date that Pritzker—heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune and worth an estimated $3.5 billion—made his first donation to his gubernatorial bid. That amount was $200,000, modest by comparison to the latest spending. But that election against private equity investor Bruce Rauner became the most expensive gubernatorial election in the state’s history.
Rauner made a $50 million donation to his own committee in December 2016, in the very early days of his re-election bid.
Pritzker and his wife, M.K., were prolific donors before he kicked off his campaign. But since launching JB for Governor in March 2017, Pritzker has donated $213 million of his personal fortune to that committee and an additional $58 million to the “Vote Yes for Fair Tax” committee backing his unsuccessful “Fair Tax” referendum.
For scale, total funds spent in the 2006 gubernatorial race between Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka totaled $33.8 million. It’s a different game now: Rauner and Gov. Pat Quinn’s race cost $100 million, and the 2018 race—including independent, third party, and primary competitors—cost a total of $283 million.
That’s according to Alisa Kaplan, executive director of Reform for Illinois. The group tracks political donations and spending. Kaplan says Pritzker’s donation will do much the same as Rauner’s $50 million did in 2016: “Create a spending arms race and narrow the field of potential opponents to those who are either incredibly wealthy or who have access to the deepest pockets in the state.”
“Paging Ken Griffin?” she wonders. “He’s one of very few people in the state who could go toe-to-toe with him financially in a gubernatorial race.”
via Crain’s Chicago Business https://ift.tt/1mywUHL
March 20, 2021 at 02:06PM