* WGN TV’s Tahman Bradley interviewed JB Pritzker yesterday…
TB: Gov. Rauner is a wealthy man with no government experience. President Trump, wealthy man, no government experience. You’re a wealthy man, no government experience. How are you different?
Pritzker: Well, that’s not true. I do have government experience. In fact, I think people should take note that if I was some sort of political person that was running for everything, I might not have chosen this year to run just for the point you made. There’s a failed president in Washington, DC who’s a wealthy businessman. There’s a failed governor here in Illinois, who’s a wealthy businessman. But here’s the thing: I bring real experience to the job getting things done for working families.
The only state government experience he has is chairing the Human Rights Commission and occasionally yakking on the phone with Rod Blagojevich. That ain’t much. I get that he’s in campaign mode and has to say those things, but I do hope he doesn’t actually believe that his limited experience means he understands state government. He doesn’t. If elected, he will need people who do understand.
* Brian Mackey…
“I had probably as good a resume as anybody going into the governor’s office,” says Jim Edgar, who was governor of Illinois from 1991 to 1999 — after being secretary of state, Gov. Jim Thompson’s top lobbyist, and a state legislator.
“But jiminy, I’ve got to say a lot of things surprised me,” Edgar says. “I can’t imagine people that hadn’t had any experience.”
Edgar says there are ways an amateur politician could help himself in the job: Bring in good people. People who know the history and process of Illinois government. And listen to their advice.
* With that in mind, Greg Hinz takes a look at possible Pritzker administration honchos…
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.
IMHO, under no circumstances should a governor - whoever it is - hire a chief of staff with no state government experience in Illinois. We do not need a Rauner repeat.
Also, while Manar is still campaigning hard all day every day, he’s practically coasting to reelection right now. The GOP has done almost nothing to take him out. But that’s an Andy Manar district. An appointed replacement would have a tougher time. If he ever wants to run statewide, though, he needs to get out of the Senate and move away from his position on guns or he’ll have a rough Democratic primary (unless the field can be cleared). He could be a good chief of staff, though. He could also be a good budget director (so would Sen. Elgie Sims, by the way, or Rep. Greg Harris, or Sen. Heather Steans, or Jessica Basham, or Kristin Richards or a ton of other good people).
Anyway, I’m gonna avoid talking about everyone else because the campaign is still chugging along and I have to deal with some of these folks. Your thoughts?