* Back to Greg Hinz’s interview of JB Pritzker…
On Speaker Madigan, who also serves as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, Pritzker surprised me when he repeatedly went out of his way to declare that the party, unlike its siblings in other states, has atrophied under Madigan’s nearly two decades of leadership.
“There really is no Illinois Democratic Party,” Pritzker said, referring in part to the lack of a unified field organization, but also to the fact that the party’s central committee doesn’t even bother to meet to consider endorsing candidates anymore. “The Democratic Party doesn’t exist. . . .I believe we need to build a real Democratic Party in Illinois when it comes to field.”
Pritzker said he’s doing just that with his own campaign, setting up a structure of workers in every corner of the state—and he indicated that structure might continue later. He ducked when asked if that would work if the structure was turned over to Madigan, who usually is mostly concerned about retaining control of the House: “I don’t know,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker is doing what Bruce Rauner did in 2013 and 2014. The ILGOP basically existed only on paper back then. Rauner opened a ton of field offices during the primary (Pritzker just opened his 15th field office) and hired a ton of field staff. Rauner’s press releases back then were also similar to Pritzker’s today. Pritzker doesn’t just do specific candidate-based releases, he sends out lots of releases that you’d normally see from state parties in other states.
The difference is that Rauner completely took over the ILGOP after the primary, injecting tens of millions of dollars in the process. Pritzker won’t be able to do that unless Speaker Madigan steps aside, and that doesn’t seem likely.
* Back to the story…
But he seemed to bend over backward to rebut charges from Rauner and some Democratic rivals that he has the speaker’s private backing.
“I don’t owe my election to anybody. I’m getting elected on my own,” he said. And if he hasn’t called for Madigan to step down—”As governor of a state, you don’t get to choose” who you work with—Pritzker did note that he favors the adoption of term limits on legislative leadership positions, something that, if implemented, would affect Madigan sometime in the next decade.