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Pritzker criticizes DPI, plans to open regional offices to help down-ballot candidates

Thursday, Aug 3, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* National Journal, posted with permission

Pritzker, the billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, has so far spent at least $9 million with the help of significant self-funding on his challenge to Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. While most of this spending has focused on TV ads and other paid media that promote his own candidacy, the longtime donor is also promising to back up down-ballot candidates.

“We do not have a strong state party that’s out defending the Democratic message writ large,” Pritzker said in an interview, emphasizing he is focusing on promoting his anti-Rauner message. “So my campaign is really having to fill in.”

Illinois Democrats see Pritzker’s candidacy as an opportunity to expand beyond Cook County, something one Democratic strategist said has been a longtime goal never fully realized. Pritzker is already running robocalls in state legislative districts outside of Cook and DuPage counties, and as far as the Missouri and Kentucky borders. But he also plans to open at least seven office spaces that could help down-ballot candidates, according to two Illinois Democratic strategists.

In “internal conversations about J.B. Pritzker, there is a level of excitement about his willingness to invest financially” in party building, said Illinois Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos. The congresswoman, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “heartland engagement,” is the only Democrat in the delegation from outside of the Chicago area.

He’s certainly right about DPI’s messaging. The party is all about helping a few House incumbents and candidates.

* From the same article

Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss, another Illinois gubernatorial candidate, said in an interview that the party lacks a “unified message.” He in part faulted Democratic Speaker Mike Madigan, the chair of the state party, and warned that “the Pritzker-Madigan alliance, while powerful, seems to be all about doubling down on just being present” in “a few swing districts.”

Says the guy whose campaign just opened a “field office” in his home town of Evanston.


  1. - EVanstonian - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    To be fair, the focus of the ILGOP seems to be defeating a few House incumbents and candidates every year. They promoted and elected a relative outsider to accomplish just that, and seem to be happy to see other parts of the state burn if they can get that done.

    Both of our state parties are focused on a particular set of levers. They must hate those cans!

  2. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    Sounds like JB would be a better state party chair than Madigan.

    Not sure what governor he’d be but this is stuff that appeals to me as a Downstate Dem.

    Pretty sad that Madigan is a liability in the Dem primary.

  3. - Julius - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:42 pm:

    Let’s agree on one thing - people who buy the office shouldn’t win it. It’s the principle of the thing. At long last, haven’t we learned anything from RawNerve?

  4. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    ===Let’s agree on one thing ===

    This is America. We don’t agree on anything. Move along.

  5. - Generic Drone - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    If dems want to make inroads to downstate oppertunities, then start creating those oppertunities. Do so by supporting redistricting reforms that maintain fair and ethical guidlines.

  6. - Real - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    I agree on Jb being state party chair.

  7. - DuPage Bard - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:49 pm:

    It’s a solid move. Rainier did the same thing. The party had a really poor apparatus to win elections and were being swamped in messaging just 4 years ago. In came Raunier and he’s been crushing Dems in messaging ever since.

  8. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:51 pm:

    DuPage Bard, do me a favor and update your spell check. You misspelled the governor’s last name two different ways in that comment. lol

  9. - WhoKnew - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    - DuPage Bard -

    Better yet, just switch to Julius’ suggested ” RawNerve”! /s

  10. - Moe Berg - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    Yup. Rauner’s crushed the Dem messaging all the way to a mid-thirties approval rating. Keep crushin’, Bruce.

  11. - Gerry Mander - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    =Do so by supporting redistricting reforms that maintain fair and ethical guidlines.=
    An obvious solution, but to paraphrase Rich, this is the USA, we all love our impaired elections in different ways.

  12. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    In fairness to Biss and his outside Cook County cred or whatever, he got endorsed by/had an event with the Bloomington mayor a couple weeks ago fwiw

  13. - Arsenal - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    ==Yup. Rauner’s crushed the Dem messaging all the way to a mid-thirties approval rating. Keep crushin’, Bruce.==

    I take your point, and it’s a good one, but it’s probably worth noting that the most prominent Dem over the last 2 years is in even worse shape.

  14. - Arsenal - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    Pritzker isn’t wrong at all, not one little bit, but this is also a calculated swipe at the Speaker.

    Also, JB? Have fun meeting all those local Dems with their hands out.

  15. - Fax Machine - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    Downballot is a funny word to use because DPI currently is solely about the most downballot race of state significance - State rep. Everything else is upballot from that (Statewides, Congressmen, State senate).

    Unless he’s talking about county boards?

  16. - Because I said so.... - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    I should know this but not certain and I have a few questions.
    How is the party chairman chosen and how often?
    Is he/she voted in by the county chairs?

  17. - Fax Machine - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    But this is why the Speaker is backing Pritzker - because not only will his self-funding free up union money for GA races & constitutional offices, but he seems committed to chipping in himself to help in these races a la Rauner with ILGOP

  18. - blue dog dem - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    How do you correct spell chek?

  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 2:00 pm:

    This is exactly the point. JB will have Dems backs. It’s a big deal. He’s perfectly aware that DPI provides none of the rest of what a high-functioning party should. Other than for House races, there’s no real candidate training, no development of lower level candidates, no message, no digital platform, no resources other than very narrowly focused on House races. Hell, 20 years ago it didn’t bring that much to the table but it brought something. Now? It’s just a bank account run by the Speaker. Pritzker understands this and can fix it. He’s already demonstrated it with the robocalls in defense of Rauner attacks.

    And for those like Biss and Kennedy and Rauner who want to claim he’s just in the pocket of Madigan, moves like this are going to make that more difficult.

  20. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 2:21 pm:

    So, Dan Biss drops out of the Comptroller race and suddenly gets millions of dollars for an attack PAC from donors that are aligned with Madigan. His personal profile grows attacking Rauner with his PAC money while his campaign fund with over a million dollars raised for the Comptroller race sits unused. I have trouble believing Biss when he portrays himself as a anti-Madigan independent. Am I a cynic?

  21. - Century Club - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 2:57 pm:

    This was a good opportunity for Biss to differentiate his path (bold vision that inspires people to act) vs Pritzker (status quo billionaire), but it looks like he swung and missed.

  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 3:10 pm:

    Trapped in the ‘burbs,

    You’re shocked at the Biss hypocrisy? You mean like passing petitions for Hillary and then acting like you’re a Bernie ‘bro?? You mean that kind of hypocrisy?

  23. - Periwinkle - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    Why would Biss’s office be anywhere else? He and his family live in Evanston, his district and biggest volunteer and donor base are there. HRC’s campaign headquarters was in NY, GWB’s in Texas, Bill Clinton’s in Little Rock…you get the idea. It just makes sense.

    Biss has literally been all over the state for months now, and has held organizing meetings everywhere. Whatever else you might say, he seems to be working hard to get his name out across the state.

  24. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 4:04 pm:

    ===Why would Biss’s office be anywhere else?===

    For a headquarters, sure. But he calls it a field office. And they’ve been tweeting about canvassing Evanston.

    C’mon, man.

  25. - Arsenal - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 4:18 pm:

    ==This was a good opportunity for Biss to differentiate his path (bold vision that inspires people to act) vs Pritzker (status quo billionaire), but it looks like he swung and missed.==

    Eh, it’s one quote given to National Journal. In the grand scheme, he’s doing just fine running the “outside” game.

  26. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 4:40 pm:

    It’s not excusable that one of the two political parties doesn’t have a modern-day messaging apparatus. I didn’t know the Illinois Democrats are called DPI until very recently.

    Many policies that have more Democratic than Republican support are popular. Not trying to capitalize on that, message-wise, is not what a major political party should ever do.

  27. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Aug 3, 17 @ 6:42 pm:

    Grandson, when the State Chairman doesn’t have a cellphone and probably doesn’t use a computer, expecting a modern messaging strategy is a stretch.

  28. - ChiLaborGuy - Friday, Aug 4, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    Has anyone mentioned that Mr. Biss has zero room to talk about any candidate’s relationship to Speak Madigan when Biss voted for Madigan as Speaker several times, ran Madigan’s PAC and got out of the comptroller’s race at the Speaker’s urging. Seems like the pot calling the kettle black if you ask me. Also, Biss as the lowest lifetime AFL-CIO voting amongst Dems in the State Senate scoring at dismal 62%. There are Repubs with better AFL voting records than that.

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