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Pritzker getting more serious about bid as Cook rates race as “lean Republican”

Monday, Dec 5, 2016

* JB Pritzker has been calling around gauging support for a possible run for governor

Some Democrats believe Pritzker, who has instant name recognition, a lengthy resume in philanthropy and an investment in Chicago’s business and tech world, is uniquely positioned to go up against multimillionaire Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who in 2014 spent a record amount of money in an Illinois governor’s race — more than $65 million.

“J.B. is not intimidated by Rauner’s money,” said a source close to Pritzker. “If he did this, he would do whatever it took to do it the right way. He would run to win and he would do what it takes to do that.” […]

Not everyone is cheering Pritzker’s potential candidacy. Some progressives fear pitting a billionaire against another multi-millionaire would create the wrong narrative in the Democrats’ quest to retake the governor’s mansion. Democrats have painted Rauner as the out-of-touch rich guy who is allowing the state’s neediest to suffer in order to push through his personal political agenda. Warring sides have left the state without a full budget since Rauner took office in 2015. […]

“[Chris Kennedy] can’t walk in with a check for $100 million and go toe to toe with Rauner,” said one said a top Illinois political operative who was among those Pritzker called.

We’ll see. Rich guys like to talk a lot of smack about writing big checks, but few actually do. Rauner did, which made him unique. And, speaking of money, Rauner stressed that he didn’t inherit his great wealth, which helped him connect with people lower on the economic food chain (think his grandparents’ trailer at their dairy farm that he mentions every chance he gets, or his fondness for his Harley, or his trash-can van, or his g-droppin’ ways). Pritzker inherited a fortune, which makes it far tougher for him to show he’s like everyone else.

Also, when he hires an opposition researcher to thoroughly look into his own past, we’ll know he’s more than just taking a cursory look at this run. Rauner did that early on, which was key to understanding that he was dead serious about his campaign.

Pritzker may have “instant name recognition” in some circles, but I gotta figure that lots of folks in Rock Island or St. Clair counties don’t know who the heck he is. More importantly, what will he do to build the party beyond Cook County and other reliable Democratic strongholds? He doesn’t have to win Downstate, of course, but he has to do much better than Pat Quinn within that region. We already know he’s a progressive Democrat, but how will Pritzker connect with the rest of the state?

And, early on, he’ll need an answer to the “Madigan question.” He needs to show that he can get things done, but isn’t willing to return to the pre-Rauner “status quo.” That’ll be important to Downstate and also to the suburbs, where the pro-choice Rauner will pursue independent women with a ferver.

* Your further suggestions?

…Adding… Right on schedule…


From the narrative

There are a few guidelines that were employed in this process. First, no incumbent starts a cycle in the Toss Up column. Do we expect Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to have difficult races? Absolutely, but first they need announced first-tier opposition.

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller   73 Comments      


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