Billionaire venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday filed to establish an exploratory committee for governor as he inches closer to deciding whether he’ll try to take on Gov. Bruce Rauner in next year’s election.
The move allows Pritzker to start raising money for a potential campaign. Pritzker will contribute $200,000 to cover day-to-day operations with the committee.
Businessman Chris Kennedy — the son of Robert F. Kennedy — and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) have already announced they’re running.
“As I’ve traveled across Illinois I’ve listened to people express their deep concerns about the direction of our state. It is clear that having a governor who’s unwilling to address our state’s challenges is having a real impact on people’s lives,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Today, I will take the next step in this process by filing an exploratory committee. I look forward to continuing my conversations with people across Illinois who are currently being forced to pay the price of failed leadership from Gov. Rauner.”
Pritzker has been touring the state to meet with voters, social service providers and leaders within the Democratic Party.
Pritzker, the Chicago venture capitalist, is listed in Forbes as having a $3.4 billion net worth. He could be the Democrats’ answer to the vast amount of money Rauner is expected to put into his re-election campaign. Rauner last year donated $50 million to his campaign fund — which a Rauner operative called “a first installment.” The contribution was the largest individual contribution in Illinois history.
Pritzker’s father co-founded Hyatt hotels, a prime source of the family’s wealth.
Since then, J.B. Pritzker has become a successful entrepreneur and investor.
Pritzker ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House seat held by Jan Schakowsky. And in 2008, he served as Hillary Clinton’s national campaign co-chair in her bid for president. Last year he contributed $14 million to her campaign and related Democratic organizations, and he raised millions more to become Clinton’s top fundraiser.
Last year, the Illinois Republican Party targeted Pritzker in robocalls to Democratic donors, elected officials and party activists. The GOP said it will continue to highlight Pritzker’s “ties” to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan until he officially decides to run.
Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe on Tuesday called Pritzker a “political insider” and a “longtime member of Mike Madigan’s inner circle” while also calling him one of Blagojevich’s “closest associates.”
“J.B. Pritzker is a tainted political insider who would only make Mike Madigan and the Chicago Political Machine stronger,” Yaffe said in a statement.
Bob Daiber, a superintendent of schools in Madison County, as well as business owner Alex Paterakis, have also announced they’re running.