Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of candidate profiles ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
In 2018, he was the challenger facing an incumbent. In 2022, his role is reversed as Democrat Gov. JB Pritzker looks for another four-year term in the governor’s seat.
The Chicago billionaire defeated Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner four years ago and is now facing state Sen. Darren Bailey in the November general election — a race where he is favored in the polls and critics say he hand-picked his opponent.
In a poll released on Wednesday by WGN-TV, Emerson College Polling, and The Hill, 51% of respondents supported Pritzker’s reelection and 36% favored Bailey.
Leading up to the primary, Pritzker invested $24 million in the Democratic Governors Association who used those funds to run ads labeling Bailey as “too extreme” for Illinois. This and an endorsement from former President Donald Trump propelled Bailey over more moderate candidates such as Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
Pritzker’s campaign advertising has used much of the same language to describe Bailey as Nov. 8 approaches, especially in regards to Bailey’s “hellhole” comments about Chicago.
“I believe we are one Illinois and we ought to act like we are one state, supportive of each region,” Pritzker said in a recent interview with The State Journal-Register. “You can’t love only parts of the state if you want to be governor of Illinois.”
About JB Pritzker, Democratic governor candidate for Illinois governor
Prior to becoming the 43rd governor of Illinois, Pritzker opened a non-profit small business hub called 1871. The incubator has supported primarily tech-based startups since its founding in 2012, taking its name from the city’s rebuild after the Great Chicago Fire more than 140 years ago. During his 25 years as a businessman, he had 10,000 employees.
He also organized President Barack Obama’s White House summit on early childhood education and served as chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
Pritzker is a billionaire but is not the richest man in his family. The governor previously worked alongside his brother, Anthony Pritzker, with the Pritzker Group private equity firm. According to the Forbes 400 List, Anthony ranks as the 303rd richest American in terms of net worth ($3.7 billion) while JB Pritzker has a net worth of $3.6 billion.
The family wealth comes from the governor’s uncle Jay Pritzker founding Hyatt Hotels and his father Donald Pritzker developing it into a multinational chain. There are 11 billionaire heirs to Hyatt Hotels fortune.
Pritzker has been married to his wife, MK, since 1993 and they have two children.
Here are three key issues in the race:
JB Pritzker on no cash bail
The talk of the campaign season, not just in the governor’s race, in recent weeks have been ample conversations regarding the end of the cash bail provision in the SAFE-T Act.
Going into effect starting in January, defendants will no longer be required to post bail to get-out-of jail, but a judge can make sure that individual remains in jail if they are “when it is determined that the defendant poses a specific, real and present threat to a person, or has a high likelihood of willful flight.” in most cases.
Still, many Republicans and state’s attorneys claim the bill will not allow for judges to detain in cases of second-degree murder, kidnapping, arson, and other offenses.
Pritzker signed the SAFE-T Act in 2021 and said the legislation reverses years of allowing wealthier suspects, possibly guilty of a violent crime, to get out of jail with bail while the poor have to remain behind bars for months.
“The Pretrial Fairness Act, which is part of the SAFE-T Act, is designed to fix that error and to make sure that we are keeping the violent criminals in jail,” the governor said, describing the GOP’s remarks on the legislation as part of a “disinformation campaign.”
Later, during a Illinois Associated Press Media Editors forum on Friday, Pritzker was asked whether he supported changes to the SAFE-T Act filed by Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, earlier this week. Bennett’s bill, among other things, would allow judges to deny pretrial release for any alleged crime if the individual is a threat to a person or the community.
“I haven’t gone through every provision that he has proposed, but I know that Senator Bennett, who was a prosecutor, a Democrat from Champaign and Vermillion counties, is somebody who is very careful in the way he approaches issues like this and I’m always open to working with people who are rational and reasonable in their proposals,” he said.
Staying the course on abortion
Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, neighboring states saw either a restriction or outright bans of abortion. In Illinois, however, Pritzker made calls to hold a special session to ensure access throughout the state.
What first looked like a special session potentially coming together this summer, no such session took place. If the special session does not happen, lawmakers would have the opportunity to address abortion-related legislation in the veto session held the week before and the week after Thanksgiving.
Pritzker, in the time since, has met with Planned Parenthood officials and increased Medicare reimbursement rates for abortion services. His proposals for abortion, whether that be in November or in the 2023 session, include ensuring access to those both in-state and out-of-state.
“It is extremely important that we take action as Republicans try to relegate women to second-class citizens,” he said. “Here in Illinois, abortion is safe and legal and, as long as I am governor, it’s going to stay that way.”
Economic relief for taxpayers
The governor has regularly touted economic relief packages such as the Illinois Family Relief Plan — part of the 2023 state budget — throughout his campaign, including the freezing of the gas tax, school supply tax holiday, tax rebates, and more.
Pritzker discussed the measure in a June press conference, as the $1.8 billion plan would go into effect at the start of the fiscal year in July.
“We are able to do that because Democrats balanced the budget, eliminated the bill backlog, and state government is now running a surplus,” he said.
A fair tax proposal is one measure Pritzker said he will not consider taking up in another term. During his first term, a 2020 ballot issue ultimately failed despite the governor spending $56 million of his own money on ads supporting the proposal.
What is the campaign’s funding source?
Instead of relying on outside funding, Pritzker’s campaign is almost entirely self-funded — receiving only $164 from individual contributors in the last quarter which ended June 30, according to campaign finance data. He concluded the quarter with more than $60 million on hand though spending north of $27 million.
The campaign has served in many ways to financially boost Democrats up and down the ballot. The Democratic Party of Illinois has received the most backing from the JB For Governor campaign. The campaign contributed $1.5 million to the party last month, following the pre-primary quarter with three contributions of $500,000 to the party.
Who’s endorsing Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker?
Pritzker has received endorsements from the Gun Violence Prevention PAC, Giffords PAC, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America, among others.
Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/@pkeckreporter
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October 11, 2022 at 05:22PM