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Head of Democratic county chairmen’s group urging Pritzker endorsement

J.B. Pritzker

The chairman of the influential Illinois Democrat County Chairmen’s Association is urging members to endorse J.B. Pritzker for governor — ahead of a planned endorsement session next month.

Doug House, also chairman of the Rock Island County Democrats, on Tuesday said the chairmen will make up their own minds on Oct. 7, but he’s made up his own. There are nine declared candidates for the hotly contested March primary.

“While other candidates are to be commended for stepping forward, only J.B. Pritzker has generated the excitement around a progressive message, intensely and constantly engaged our common opponent, and demonstrated the ability to mount the comprehensive statewide campaign that will be required to win,” House said in a statement.

“It is for these reasons that I will enthusiastically cast my vote and ask others to do [the] same for an IDCCA endorsement of J.B. Pritzker for Governor.”

House cited Pritzker’s temperament, “strong message,” broad-based support and organizational growth for reasons he’s supporting him.

Pritzker is a self-funder, and he’s contributed more than $14 million to his campaign. He’s spent most of that on television ads that ran early and often, more than nine months before the primary.

An endorsement from the county chairmen would only add on to a slew the billionaire entrepreneur and investor has already reaped, including the endorsement of 14 labor unions.

Sources have said for months that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has been rounding up support for Pritzker, although his spokesman has denied that.

The trade unions, however, are allied with the powerful speaker who also serves as the chair of the state Democratic Party.

Earlier this year, House urged candidates to focus on unseating Rauner — rather than attacking each other.

The announcement didn’t go unnoticed on Tuesday. The Illinois Republican Party, led by Gov. Bruce Rauner, criticized the push to endorse Pritzker — while again trying to link him to both the speaker and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“Mike Madigan is strong-arming endorsements for J.B. Pritzker because Madigan knows Pritzker will expand his power, protect his tax hikes, and block reform,” spokesman Aaron DeGroot said in a statement. “Illinois families should be worried that a Blagojevich-loving, Madigan-obeying politician like J.B. Pritzker wants to be their governor.”