Democratic Party Candidates for Illinois Governor: J.B. Pritzker

Written by John Biver

J. B. Pritzker is a billionaire venture capitalist, philanthropist and attorney from Chicago–and as of a few days ago, he is an announced candidate for governor of Illinois. He is heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune and a guy who can compete with millionaire Chris Kennedy when it comes to campaign dollars. In fact, Pritzker has said that he will self-fund.

Pritzker, 52 years old, is estimated to be worth about $3.4 billion dollars. In addition to his campaign website, he has a personal website, and here is how he summarizes his bio:

J.B. Pritzker is an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He is Founder of Pritzker Group, a private investment firm that comprises [sic] three professional investment teams: middle-market acquisitions, technology venture capital and asset management.

. . .

With his wife M.K., he founded the Pritzker Family Foundation. He led the campaign to build the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and is one of the nation’s leading supporters of high quality early childhood education.

He has been involved with several civil institutions over the years, and he was one of Hillary Clinton’s largest donors in 2016. Pritzker lost a primary contest to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in 1998, and his sister Penny served as the U.S. Commerce Secretary during Obama’s second term.

Nothing in his announcement or background suggests he would be to the political right of any of the other candidates. In fact he might be positioning himself as someone on the far left:

This campaign isn’t about money. It’s about values. It’s about progressive values. That’s what I’ve stood for my whole life. I grew up a progressive Democrat. I’ve fought for progressive Democratic values.”

. . .

Gov. Bruce Rauner is a failure. He promised a turnaround and all we got was the runaround. He said he would stand up to the special interests and instead, he’s become his own special interest.

Still unconvinced that “J.B.” is an extreme Leftist?

He chaired the Equality Illinois Gala last year.

He supports Planned Parenthood.

He supports men in women’s bathrooms.

He has a transgender cousin.

On these last two, here’s the skinny on J.B.’s cousin: Jennifer Natalya Pritzker was born James Nicholas Pritzker. Regardless of how “Jennifer” and J.B. get along, it’s easy to assume that a governor J.B. will be the best friend the sexually confused would ever have in the governor’s mansion in Springfield.

While social conservatives and Christians have compassion for those suffering from gender confusion, political activism on behalf of it and a $500,000 donation in support of it–is not deserving of compassion.

To the topic of the “lifeblood of politics” (money), should either millionaire Chris Kennedy or billionaire J.B. Pritzker win the Democratic Party nomination, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner will be up against someone that can match him dollar for dollar.

Regardless of the Democratic Party’s nominee, the race next year promises not only to be a contest involving big money, but also about personality and likability. Democrats might have the edge here, as Rauner has struggled connecting with Illinoisans. His reliance on silly shirts and other gimmicks (cowboy hats and old trucks) have mostly failed to create the “every man” image.

As always, there are many unpredictable variables that will play out over the next year during the Democratic Party Primary, from issues to messaging. During J.B. Pritzker’s first few days in the race he appears to be concentrating on coming across as a warm, friendly family man. Those who sign up to receive email updates from his campaign receive this:

This is going to be a different kind of operation, because JB is a different type of candidate. To beat Bruce Rauner, we need someone who thinks big, doesn’t follow the same old playbook, and stands up for our progressive values, no matter what.

This campaign isn’t going to be a one-sided conversation–we’re going to be in touch to ask you to share info with your friends and family, to volunteer, and to ask you what you think about the race, Illinois politics, and what’s happening in your community.

While this kind of political rhetoric is to be expected, a candidate has to pull it off and be believable. For someone as far to the left as Pritzker is, he’ll need all the charm he can muster to hide his radicalism. With the bipartisan fiscal mess that is Illinois today, both major party general election candidates will have to  excel in categories such as trustworthiness, credibility and, yes, even affability.

Read more:

Part 1: Illinois Democrats Line Up to Run for Governor

Part 2: Democratic Party Candidates for Illinois Governor: Bob Daiber and Chris Kennedy

Part 3: Democratic Party Candidates for Illinois Governor: Paterakis & Pawara

Part 4: Democratic Party Candidates for Illinois Governor: J.B. Pritzker

Up next: A review of three other potential (as of yet unannounced) candidates — Robin Kelly, Kwame Raoul and Scott Drury.

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