Democrat Giannoulias in the driver’s seat in race for campaign cash in hotly contested secretary of state contest

Monday marked an Illinois State Board of Elections deadline to file a required quarterly report of contributions and expenditures, but a number of primary candidates had not yet filed their reports late Monday.

SHARE Democrat Giannoulias in the driver’s seat in race for campaign cash in hotly contested secretary of state contest
Democratic secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks to striking SEIU Local 73 Cook County workers rallying outside the Cook County Building last year.

Democratic secretary of state candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks to striking SEIU Local 73 Cook County workers rallying outside the Cook County Building last year.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

In his bid to succeed retiring Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias is holding his edge in raising campaign cash — with more than two and half times as much money in the bank as the other six Democratic and Republican candidates combined.

Giannoulias, a former state treasurer, reported $4,403,133 in his campaign fund at the end of last month, nearly four times as much as the $1,116,365 that his chief Democratic rival, Chicago City clerk Anna M. Valencia had on hand. Ald. David Moore (17th) was in a distant third place with just $38,663 in the bank. Democrat Sidney Moore, whose petitions to run for the office had been challenged, had not reported raising any funds.

Among Republicans vying for the post, former U.S. Attorney for central Illinois John C. Milhiser had $273,620 in his account, and state Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington had $242,598. Former Chicago Police Officer Michelle Turney, part of a GOP slate that doesn’t accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, filed a report closing out her campaign fund with a balance of zero.

Republican John Milhiser, left; Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, center; Democrat Anna Valencia, right. Giannoulias raised more than any other candidate for secretary of state, with Valencia a distant second, and Milhiser an even more distant third.

Republican John Milhiser, left; Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, center; Democrat Anna Valencia, right. Giannoulias raised more than any other candidate for secretary of state, with Valencia a distant second, and Milhiser an even more distant third.

johnmilhiser.com; Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Monday marked an Illinois State Board of Elections deadline to file a required quarterly report of contributions and expenditures, but a number of primary candidates had not yet filed their reports late Monday.

In what will likely become another record-setting gubernatorial election in Illinois, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has already spent more than $17 million so far with only token primary opposition. Pritzker filed his report on Friday night and reported $87,560,806 cash on hand. In addition to his spending on TV ads, the governor has also transferred $560,700 out of his campaign fund, mostly to ward, township and county Democratic organizations.

Pritzker’s most feared opponent, Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Richard Irvin, had not yet filed his report by 11 p.m. Irvin’s campaign, largely funded by billionaire Ken Griffin, is being fought aggressively via television ads and stacks of mailers. The Aurora mayor’s report will shed a light on just how much the Irvin campaign is spending on his hits on state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, Irvin’s chief GOP primary rival.

Hedge Fund billionaire Ken Griffin, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Hedge Fund billionaire Ken Griffin, left, in 2018; Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, center, in 2019; Gov. J.B. Pritzker, right, in March.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times; Patrick Kunzer/Daily Herald; Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Democrats want to see Bailey succeed because they’d rather Pritzker face him than Irvin, who appears to so far have unlimited spending prowess thanks to Griffin, the state’s richest person.

Griffin contributed $20 million to Irvin’s campaign in February, according to campaign records already filed. Irvin’s other big contributors include horse racing mogul Craig Duchossois and Winnetka businessman James Frank, who chipped in a quarter-million dollars each. North suburban MacLean-Fogg Co. and Delaware-based Braveheart Investments Inc. also donated $250,000 each.

Real estate billionaire Sam Zell gave $100,000 to Irvin’s campaign, as did cosmetics tycoon Ron Gidwitz, who led fundraising for former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s winning bid in 2014.

Bailey, the key target of Griffin’s mailers, also had not yet filed his report as of 11 p.m. His campaign, however, said Bailey had $900,965 cash on hand and would be reporting $1,232,746 in contributions. Bailey last month released his first TV ad, in which he called himself “the only true conservative Republican” in the race.

Suburban businessman Gary Rabine, left, last year; State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, center; former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, right.

Suburban businessman Gary Rabine, left, last year; State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, center; former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, right.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file; Facebook

Among the rest of the crowded GOP field, Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine reported $851,464 cash on hand, $1,166,432 in contributions and $314,968 in expenditures. Rabine lent himself $1 million, bringing the total that he has lent his campaign to $1,430,390.

Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo reported $78,881 in contributions and about $28,351 cash on hand after having spent $131,425. Wheaton Republican Emily Johnson had not yet reported creating a campaign account.

Venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, who is also running statewide TV ads in his bid for the GOP nomination for governor, reported $8,015,429 on hand, after having spent $2,429,758.

Republican Jesse Sullivan and running mate, Kathleen Murphy, talk to reporters before filing their petitions to run for governor and lieutenant governor on March 14.

Republican Jesse Sullivan and running mate, Kathleen Murphy, talk to reporters before filing their petitions to run for governor and lieutenant governor on March 14.

Taylor Avery/Chicago Sun-Times file

Hazel Crest lawyer Max Solomon reported $8,496 in contributions, $37,750.00 in in-kind contributions, $7,177 in expenditures and $1,996 cash on hand. Country Club Hills entrepreneur Keisha Smith filed her quarterly report on paper on Monday, meaning those totals were not yet available online.

Should Irvin win the primary race, the race for governor of Illinois is expected to break spending records once again. Pritzker spent $171 million of his own money to beat Rauner in 2018, a race in which Griffin backed the Republican.

And the bad blood between the billionaires has only kept boiling since Griffin spent more than $50 million to defeat Pritzker’s graduated income tax constitutional amendment in 2020.

The founder and CEO of the Citadel hedge fund, Griffin is Illinois’ richest person, according to Forbes, with a fortune estimated at $25.5 billion. Pritzker’s net worth is estimated at $3.6 billion.

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