Pritzker joins scary bogeymen Capone, Blago and Madigan

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The Bruce Rauner campaign released a 14-minute ad on Thursday featuring 11 minutes of wiretapped conversation between J.B. Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich. | Screenshot

The Bulls played Golden State Wednesday night. A good game, where what is supposed to be a building-year, hope-for-a-top-draft-pick-and-better-days team gave the world champions a run for their money, particularly that flurry at the end of the first quarter, putting the good guys ahead, 40-38.

For a moment, victory seemed possible.

But doing well for a spell is not the same as winning. Not only did my wife and I have to sit through the painful third quarter Bulls meltdown, but the first two of what will be endless reiterations of a black and white Bruce Rauner commercial casting J.B. Pritzker as some kind of nefarious underworld figure, part Al Capone, part Tony Accardo, caught in an FBI wiretap conspiring online with incarcerated felon Rod Blagojevich.The ad is a masterpiece of the dark arts. Soon downstaters will be muttering “Pritzker” as the embodiment of all that is sleazy, the way they invoke the name “Madigan” with a shudder of disgust, as if he sat at the right hand of Satan, controlling all (which, alas, is not far from the truth).


I’m a naif when it comes to politics. The whole process confuses me. I can’t offer the foggiest guess why Bruce Rauner would run for office again. His plan was to become the Illinois Scott Walker — a beloved and successful champion of the triumphant right, sticking it to those union bosses, opening the state to 21st century thread factories. But instead, after three years spinning his wheels in a ditch, he’s our C. Montgomery Burns, enemy of children and the handicapped, the least popular man to call himself “governor” since Herod.

The Democratic candidates, well, what can I say that isn’t obvious? J.B. Pritzker, having cannily birthed himself to a family of vast fortune, has spent $42 million toward attaining what would be, in essence, the most expensive internship ever.

Chris Kennedy, equally clever at arranging his birth, has long proved himself a capable businessman. Unlike Pritzker, who talks as if he just learned how, Kennedy is an inspiring speaker.

And Dan Biss, the M.I.T. mathematician who, contrary to all current standards of politics, is hoping for higher office after excelling for years in lower office, in the trenches of the state legislature, an antique ritual that in today’s climate seems akin to churning butter or dipping candles.

What I don’t understand is this: if Pritzker and Kennedy are so anxious about Illinois’ future, why didn’t they both just back Biss? Someone who wants to be in government. I girded my loins and called my pal Kennedy and put this question to him. Instead of loping along a distant second to J.B. Pritzker — talk about embarrassing — why not do one of those dramatic selfless acts he obviously feels himself capable of, drop out and back Biss?

I didn’t take notes, but Kennedy basically said he’s not dropping out because he expects to win. That his polling shows when people are “fully informed,” they choose Kennedy far above his opponents. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that “fully informed” isn’t on the table. “Fully informed,” like “perfect vacuum,” is a physical impossibility, an ideal dreamworld that doesn’t apply here. He’d do better polling people who are completely uninformed, because that’s basically who’ll find their way to the voting booths in March.

So there you have it. Rauner is a complete failure who wants a second term in the daft notion that if he keeps doing exactly what hasn’t worked so spectacularly will magically start working. He’ll run against and, my sinking gut tells me, defeat Pritzker, the intellectual equal of … let’s say, a standard unit of masonry, often reddish in color. Kennedy will return to real estate development and good works like Top Box Foods. And Biss, the man we need, will sigh, circle 2022 on the calendar and return to tilling his corner of obscurity.

You see why I hate politics? Get in the dirt and pick and pick and end up with a sack of nothing. And here I had a perfectly good column on tomato soup ready to go. We’ll tuck it away for February. I’m on vacation next week.

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