He’s on the road.
And he’s listening.
Sneed has learned J.B. Pritzker, the billionaire businessman eyeing a bid to unseat Gov. Bruce Rauner, celebrated his 52nd birthday last week by quietly kicking off a statewide tour in a potential bid for a gubernatorial run.
“I’m on a listening tour,” said Pritzker, who Sneed reached on what appears to be a “pre-campaign” stump in Rock Island.
• Translation: Pritzker, a venture capitalist who could easily fund his own campaign and was a major supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, was rumored to be in line for a Cabinet position. He claims he is putting the finishing touches on the first of many downstate swings throughout Illinois as a potential bid for governor on the Democratic ticket.
Although Pritzker insists he is still in the “exploratory stages,” Sneed senses a stump on the horizon; Pritzker now is visiting cities throughout Western and Central Illinois to meet with local labor and political leaders.
Follow @sneedlingsSneed is also told Pritzker, who is spending time talking about his background building businesses and leading progressive causes, has been meeting families and social service agencies thathave taken a hit since Gov. Rauner took office two years ago.
Ironically—although Pritzker is a committed Democrat—his business prowess and financial independence has been likened to Republican President Donald Trump.
Did Pritzker watch the Trump inaugural?
“I was busy listening,” he chuckled.
The Big Race…
Sneed hears rumbles Chris Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy political dynasty who has also been eyeing a gubernatorial bid, is this/close to announcing the formation of an exploratory committee.
The Obama exit . . .
Hmmmm. Sneed hears former President Barack Obama, who is spending alone time with wifeMichellein Palm Springs, plans to eventually spend major quality time in Alaska — which enthralled him while filming a special segment last year of Bear Grylls’ outdoor survival TV show.
Rahm’s reflection . . .
Blam! Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, spent time at the White House recently reminiscing about old times.
One reflection involved a snowball fight.
• Backshot: It was Dec. 19, 2009, when Rahm and Obama were walking across the outdoor White House colonnade toward each other from the East and West wings.
• Snowshot: “For some reason we decided to pack snowballs from an unusually heavy snowfall for D.C. and I got off the first shot,” Rahm told Sneed.
“It missed and hit the colonnade pilla,” said the mayor. “But he [Obama] succeeded in getting off a successful shot — which hit me right in the back,” Rahm chuckled.
“The Secret Service guys were stunned. They had never seen anything like that. Man, did they scramble.
“As far as I know, this was the first and only snowball fight between the president and his chief of staff!”
It’s up to you, Mrs. Robinson . . .
Marian Robinson, former first lady Michelle Obama’s precious mom, is not only glad to be heading back to Chicago and her hometown friends from her long stint being first Grandma at the White House, but is hoping to finally go incognito.
•Translation: A devout White Sox fan, Mrs. Robinson — who kept a very low profile during the Obama administration — opted to wear a Cubs cap and hide behind rhinestone sunglasses when out in public.
Sneedlings . . .
Happy! Happy! Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway turned 50 on the Donald Inaugural Day. . . . I spy: Blackhawks player Trevor van Riemsdyk spotted with his girlfriend at Chicago Cut recently. . . . Also at Chicago Cut, “Chicago PD” star LaRoyce Hawkins. . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Emma Bunton, 41; Brandon Crawford, 30, and Jack Nicklaus, 77. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Guy Fieri, 49; Steve Perry, 68, and Diane Lane, 52.