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Question of the day

Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020

* I made this same, basic argument earlier this week with subscribers

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s political arm has donated $57,800 to Margaret Croke’s campaign for the 12th District state House seat, and separately, he and his wife, M.K. Pritzker, have each donated $5,800 to Croke.

Sure, this ratchets up the contest between Croke, a leader in the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer, who was appointed a few weeks ago by party bosses to fill the seat. But it also ramps up the tension between Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who’s endorsed Pizer and has put $2,500 toward his campaign.

Loyalty and maybe some pride are guiding the state’s two top Democrats. Pritzker wants his employee — who also worked on his campaign — to succeed. And Lightfoot is doing what she can to help Pizer, who was a campaign donor.

Their political jousting raises questions about whether a mayor or governor should get involved in contested primaries at all. By backing neophyte candidates in a contested race, Pritzker and Lightfoot are taking a fair amount of political risk by putting their names on the line. After all, someone has to walk away the loser.

Pritzker campaign spokesman Quentin Fulks recently told Playbook: “The governor will not be making any contributions to anyone in the Illinois state legislature — House or Senate — during the session.” But supporting a challenger in a contested race is OK.

A loss may not mean so much this time, but lose a few races and one could be seen as a paper tiger.

* The Question: Should the governor and the mayor be involving themselves in legislative primaries? Please make sure to explain your answer.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - yes but... - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:10 am:

    I think they have every right to involve themselves. I’d honestly rather it be out in the open like this than working through allied groups and individuals to indirectly provide support for their chosen candidates.


  2. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:11 am:

    This QOTD is about 90 days late, but the answer is “no” because the tussles appeal only to the thinned out news media who will cover the races and chalk it up as their “legislative coverage”
    Righ now bystanders are lookin’ to see if money is going to drop or bodies flood the streets.
    Remember the gold old days when GovJunk would threaten GOPies with primaries if they waivered from his DestroyIllinois agenda?


  3. - Fav human - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:12 am:

    Of course they should. Legislators owing the governor a favor helps new programs pass. Same for the mayor.

    But they have to be pretty careful and make sure they’re on the winning side most of the time.


  4. - ;) - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:15 am:

    Absolutely. May the strongest win. Only the weak, and losers, would be arguing otherwise. Told a candidate this not too long ago as well. Learn and train to win the game, not cry about the rules.


  5. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:22 am:

    $76,700 of the $221K she has raised are from the Pritzker administration including $1,500 from Christian Mitchell

    JB doesn’t want any #%@&# problems with the legislature.

    Cue the zero outrage from those who thought Governor Rauner improperly influenced Republicans in the legislature with political contributions.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:32 am:

    Split decision.

    Yes for Mayor.

    No for Governor.

    Simple for mayor, mayors need votes and folks in the “town” caucuses as these small number of members build a coalition of locals, and that’s the key here, locals, to help with local agendas getting recognized while in the end the member will need local support a working relationship with a mayor.

    This Governor has squandered quite a bit of political capital within the in-fighting of caucus politics. No matter how you want to spin it, Governor Pritzker exacerbated a rift within the SDem caucus and got blindsided by a father, a son, a grudge, and never fully grasping that Lightford didn’t have the numbers and this governor was in NO position to secure the numbers to win. You can’t, as a governor, move to be a kingmaker and your choice never becomes king.

    Now, with the insertion into a General Assembly race, albeit for an open seat, this governor, again, opens himself up to look foolish, even for the right reason I can get behind, loyalty. Like Rauner, now this governor is picking and choosing, and like Rauner, for loyalty, the separation of the political divisions is important and if a governor decides to break that division, that candidate, Croke in this case, better not lose. If Croke loses, who’s to say GA members, politically, say… “we’ll take it from here, just write a check”… or… “you tried to put one leader in, how did that work out?”

    Pritzker never shoulda got involved in the Senate Prez race unless, 100%, it woulda made the ending differevr and all sides could mend. Pritzker better make absolutely sure Croke wins, or Pritzker will be like “Mush” in “A Bronx Tale”… picking intra-party losers, and seen as a mere piggy bank for those who do win.

    I understand the why, but the loyalty here might hurt more than hurt feelings if Croke loses, and the feeling in both caucuses that this governor feels a need to insert himself politically, also while failing too.

    Yes to a Mayor, no to a Governor, including in this instance.


  7. - Shytown - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:32 am:

    Yes but with some rules. It’s not unprecedented, but they also should make sure that they do no harm by getting involved. In this particular race I think it makes more sense for the governor to be involved because it’s his home district, so it’s personal, and probably very well liked there. Lori seems to have gotten involved because Pizer was an early contributor, and we can probably assume is a friend. That’s fine, but not the precedent you probably want to set. Who can you end up saying no to?


  8. - Regular democrat - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:40 am:

    Dont make no waves dont back no losers


  9. - dbk - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:41 am:

    No. It’s like buying - instead of earning - support.

    I get the argument of the opposing side, but let’s remember all the way back to last night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOs0dVKsyKg


  10. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 11:59 am:

    ==$76,700 of the $221K she has raised are from the Pritzker administration including $1,500 from Christian Mitchell==

    You’re comparing $76,000 in one primary to the buck Rauner infused into Republican campaigns? Give me a freaking break.

    ==Cue the zero outrage from those who thought Governor Rauner improperly influenced Republicans in the legislature with political contributions.==

    I’m going to call the police for you someday because you sure do seem to be a victim a lot.


  11. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 12:07 pm:

    Let’s break this down so we can all see the - Lucky Pierre - silly;

    === $76,700 of the $221K she has raised are from the Pritzker administration including $1,500 from Christian Mitchell===

    Bruce and Diana Rauner, Diana, an avowed Democrat, put over $130 million into Bruce, the Caucuses, the Party, even Munger and Harold… millions. The D-2s, A-1s, the ownership of the RaunerS versus this one race is oranges to oranges if Pritzker is an orange and Bruce and Diana Rauner bought the largest orange grove ever, them bankrupted it when they were done

    ===JB doesn’t want any #%@&# problems with the legislature.===

    So this is - Lucky Pierre - *admitting* the RaunerS bought a party that never really agreed with them? Huh. That’s a new one.

    ===Cue the zero outrage from those who thought Governor Rauner improperly influenced Republicans in the legislature with political contributions.===

    I specifically wrote…

    === Like Rauner, now this governor is picking and choosing, and like Rauner, for loyalty, the separation of the political divisions is important and if a governor decides to break that division, that candidate,..,===

    That looks like me not only comparing the two, but liking neither instance.

    Your victimhood took a new twist, you now bemoan the Raunerism ways. That’s fun.


  12. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 12:09 pm:

    Yes - you’ve got to support your people.


  13. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 12:30 pm:

    “Should the governor and the mayor be involving themselves in legislative primaries?”

    Nothing unethical about it, but I do wonder if the benefit is worth the possible costs.

    – MrJM


  14. - NorthsideNoMore - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 12:32 pm:

    Yes….I think its good to see that loyalty runs both directions


  15. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 12:43 pm:

    I like that it’s out in the open.


  16. - Anonasaur - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 1:03 pm:

    This situation is interesting to me because I imagine both Croake and Pizer will be allies of Pritzker. Is Pizer expected to be a rogue Democrat that won’t help Pritzker with his agenda? Or are they expected to have a similar presence in Springfield but Pritzker just wants to help out a former staffer? I don’t mind the Governor wanting to back someone who will support his platform… but this just seems like he wants to do a favor for an old friend rather than support someone with the better values.


  17. - Southern Skeptic - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 1:09 pm:

    Nope for both. It’s a risky strategy (e.g. see Lightford, Kim) and one they should avoid, especially the governor.


  18. - Charlie Brown - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 1:10 pm:

    There is a rule as old as time itself: The Mayor gets to pick his legislative team.

    That is a law Speaker Madigan and the Senate President have long respected.

    It is a law that governors respected until Lightfoot became mayor and Caprara endorsed Croke.

    As the Sun-Times pointed out in their endorsement of Pizer, Croke is a policy lightweight. Pizer is not just a donor to Lightfoot, but a highly respected leader in the LGBTQA+ , put the Pritzker administration at odds not just with Lightfoot, but also Tunney, Cassidy, Quigley, Feigenholtz and others.

    A loss will be a major embarrassment, but a win will be a hollow victory.


  19. - Rutro - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 2:21 pm:

    Yes. When Madigan uses the Democratic Party of Illinois to try and kick fellow Democrat’s off of primary ballots, this is trivial.


  20. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Feb 26, 20 @ 5:10 pm:

    The Governor is messing in the mayor’s backyard.

    It’s Politics 101.

    It’s why the British Empire went to war over the Falkland Island, why we blockaded Cuba.

    The mayor sitting on $1 million is either extremely confieldent or extremely foolish. Because if she cannot defend members of the Chicago Caucus, people are gonna walk all over her for the rest of her short political career.


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