At $234 million, rich-guy rumble hasn’t broken U.S. record — yet
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They may not break the national record, but Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker are showing just what it’s like to have a seemingly unlimited supply of cash to duke it out in the November gubernatorial election.
Pritzker, a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, has put in an astounding $146.5 million of the $149.2 million raised into his campaign since 2016, according to campaign expenditure reports with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Rauner — a multi-millionaire former venture capitalist who is down by double digits in several polls — has raised more than $84.8 million from his own pockets and donors since the beginning of 2016.
Collectively, the two have taken in more than $234 million in what has become a bitter race until the end.
Record spending was set in California’s 2010 gubernatorial race, when candidates spent $280 million.
Rauner and Pritzker have just 22 days before the election, and there’s expected to be a full blown attack on television to get their final messages out. The two have been battling their own scandals in recent weeks. Pritzker has had to defend a tax break he received — and later returned to Cook County, while Rauner has been defending his administration’s handling of a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in a Downstate Quincy veterans’ home. And who knows what bad news may drop next.
In the latest quarterly reports, Pritzker — an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune — reported $41 million in contributions, with $40 million coming from his own fortune. He also reported $473,539.21 in in-kind contributions. The latest required report tracks expenses and contributions from July 1 through Sept. 30.
Pritzker spent $47.41 million, including $3.183 million to OTG Strategies for “strategic field consulting.” He paid a whopping $17.265 million to Shorr, Johnson, Magnus Strategic Media for television ads, in addition to money spent on production of those ads. He also spent $6.8 million on media ads to Pier 91 Media, a Washington, D.C., based firm.
Pritzker had $18.3 million on July 1, the beginning of the period. He now has $12.58 million remaining in his campaign fund, but he has shown there’s no limit to his campaign contributions, frequently upping his campaign warchest in $7 million to $20 million increments.
Rauner — who is behind by double digits in several polls — took in $2.086 million in contributions. He spent $26.72 million, which also included $7.2 million in transfers. Among those transfers was $1 million to Republican candidate Erika Harold’s campaign for Illinois attorney general, as well as $6 million to the House Republican Organization and $1.235 million to the Illinois Republican Party.
The Republican governor’s campaign spent $26.7 million, with television ads and other advertising topping that list. He spent $11.59 million on media buys with Target Enterprises LLC. He also spent $2.3 million to Advictory LLC for online advertising.
At the end of the quarter, Rauner still had $7.19 million in cash in his campaign fund.
Libertarian candidate Grayson “Kash” Jackson had not yet filed his quarterly report as of 9:15 p.m. “Conservative’ party candidate State Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, had also not filed his report late Monday.
In the primary, Rauner dished out more than $63 million, and Democratic J.B. Pritzker spent $68 million, from Dec. 2016 until the end of March, according to expenditures filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections. That was $176 per vote for Rauner, and $119 for Pritzker.