Gov. Pritzker to serve second term with familiar faces — and will continue to personally pay senior staffers

The governor also will retain all of his deputy governors, including Christian Mitchell, Sol Flores, Martin Torres and Andy Manar — and his chief of staff, Anne Caprara.

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Democrat incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at an election night rally at the Marriott Marquis Chicago after beating Republican candidate Darren Bailey in the Illinois gubernatorial election, Tuesday night, Nov. 8, 2022.

Democrat incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at an election night rally at the Marriott Marquis Chicago after beating Republican candidate Darren Bailey in the Illinois gubernatorial election on Nov. 8.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker will head into his second term with a pack of the same loyal staffers — for whatever the Democratic governor decides to do with his political future.

The governor also will continue to personally contribute to the salaries of some senior staffers, just as he did when he first took office in 2019, the governor’s office told the Sun-Times.

The governor’s office on Friday released a list of some staff transitions, which include familiar names gaining seniority, including Emily Bittner — who previously served as deputy chief of staff for communications — moving to a new role as senior adviser to the governor.

Press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh, a former journalist who began working for Pritzker in 2017 during his first gubernatorial campaign, will oversee the communications team as deputy chief of staff for communications and strategic media.

Emily Miller will oversee both of Pritzker’s policy and legislative teams as senior adviser to the governor for policy and legislative affairs. She currently serves as Pritzker’s deputy chief of staff for policy.

Mike Ollen, who served as Pritzker’s campaign manager, will remain on staff as a political adviser.

Pritzker also will retain all of his deputy governors, who include Christian Mitchell, Sol Flores, Martin Torres and Andy Manar — and his chief of staff, Anne Caprara.

He also will continue to contribute to the pay of his senior staffers from an LLC. The governor’s office said the same staffers who received additional pay during his first term would continue to do so. There are no new staffers receiving pay from the LLC.

Pritzker in 2019 announced the creation of East Jackson Street LLC so that he could personally compensate some of his staff in addition to their government salaries. At the time, his staff said the goal was to attract and retain top talent. The 2019 salary bump was intended for 20 positions, but not all of those were filled.

Abudayyeh on Friday said the LLC was created as a way for Pritzker to “personally contribute to compensating top staff in an effort to save on salary and pension costs for the state.”

While the extra pay is a great reason to stay in these jobs, Pritzker staffers say it’s about more than the money — and they could potentially make more in private market jobs. Besides some staff controversies during Pritzker’s first gubernatorial campaign in 2018, the governor has been mostly spared negative headlines about his staffers.

Pritzker has been coy about his political future, despite delivering fiery political speeches in both New Hampshire and Florida this year. But he has privately told President Joe Biden he would not run against him in a primary. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has also told the White House he wouldn’t challenge Biden in a primary, Politico reported last month.

Should Biden opt out of running, and Pritzker opt in, he’d be heading into a campaign with a pick of some experienced political staffers, including Quentin Fulks, his former political director who just won the runoff in Georgia, and Caprara, who previously served as executive director for Priorities USA Action, a super PAC that supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.

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