Two of the biggest decisions looming for Gov. J.B. Pritzker are what he will do about the newly drawn legislative maps Democrats passed over sharp Republican objections and his own reelection plans — and on Thursday the Chicago Democrat suggested he’s not made up his mind about either.
Virtually no one in politics has any doubts Pritzker will seek a second term — only wondering when he will make it official — but the governor portrayed himself as still mulling it over.
“I have not [decided to run], I’m talking to my family about that, and I promise you there will be some decision about that shortly,” Pritzker told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview on Thursday.
Since the billionaire already dropped $35 million of his personal fortune into his campaign coffers in March — a move he called a “preventative measure” to protect against Republican attacks on the “Democratic agenda” — presumably he’s just debating the how and when of a campaign kick-off.
He tested out some of those digs on Republicans at his post legislative session news conference on Tuesday, opening with remarks that sounded more like him making a case for reelection than recapping the legislation that lawmakers had passed.
A decision — or official announcement — on whether he will sign the remap legislation could take more time.
Republicans in the General Assembly have repeatedly called on Pritzker to veto the maps Democrats passed last week. The GOP considers the proposed boundaries unfair, and object to the maps being drawn by Democratic lawmakers, rather than an independent commission.
During his 2019 campaign, Pritzker had vowed to reject any new maps drawn by politicians.
On Thursday, Pritzker told the Sun-Times what’s most important to him is “fairness.”
“That starts with the Voting Rights Act of Illinois, the Voting Rights Act in the United States, the Supreme Court decisions that have been made around making sure that we have majority minority districts, and then looking at the overall diversity of the state to see whether there are plurality districts that minorities might be representing in the future,” Pritzker said.
“So, we’ll look at the population trends, things like that, so that we continue to have representation, with a diverse set of people in our legislature — and then of course in the Supreme Court and the [Cook County] Board of Review. And ultimately, I guess later, the same thing will be true of a congressional map when it gets submitted.”
It’s more than what the governor said on the matter at his post legislative session news conference earlier this week when asked about the maps.
But it still doesn’t answer the question of whether Pritzker will OK the Democrats’ version of fairness or heed Republicans calls for him to reject it.
At a GOP news conference Tuesday, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said “it’s time for the governor to step up and commit to his promise to veto any maps drawn by legislators.”
“He owes it to the millions of Illinoisans he promised on the campaign trail,” Durkin said. “It’s now time for the governor to prove that he is truly a man of his word and veto these unfair maps.”
At his own news conference that day, Pritzker faulted Republicans for not working with Democrats or proposing their own newly drawn legislative maps.
Republicans contend they didn’t submit a map because they don’t think legislators should be involved in that process — even though they had their own designated map-making room in Springfield, even giving reporters a tour of it last month.
The legislative session that wrapped up earlier this week is the third with Pritzker at the helm of the state. He told the Sun-Times that his priorities included passing the budget as well as legislation that would fix the state’s cannabis system and ensure funding for violence prevention and summer jobs, measures that address “the underlying causes” of violence and help people get jobs.
The governor said he “had hoped” that an energy bill would pass, and that he worked hard to make that happen. He did say that legislators and others involved are “very close” to a deal on a bill that he says will focus on “fighting climate change and making Illinois a leader in fighting climate change, moving us to a clean energy economy.”