J.B. Pritzker, once rumored to be in line for a Cabinet job in a Hillary Clinton presidency, has been approached by Democratic leaders about running for Illinois governor.
The Chicago venture capitalist is a billionaire and wouldn’t be burdened by financial concerns in competing with Gov. Bruce Rauner, another wealthy Chicago businessman. Rauner spent $65.3 million to become governor in 2014. Money like that could scare off some opponents but not Pritzker, who Forbes lists as having a $3.4 billion net worth.
Pritzker did not return a request for comment.
I hear Pritzker is considering the idea because he sees Rauner as failing in his job to manage the state. Pritzker is an active and vocal philanthropist particularly concerned about early-childhood education and is especially sensitive to how Rauner’s leadership is affecting under-served communities.
Pritzker hasn’t said yes — or no — to running in 2018. He may be considering how a political campaign might affect his family. He and his wife, M.K., have a son and daughter, both school age. Pritzker is a familiar face at his daughter’s cross country meets.
Pritzker’s wealth began with Hyatt hotels, which were co-founded by his late father. But the younger Pritzker has gone his own way, becoming a successful entrepreneur and investor. Pritzker Group, which he runs with his brother, Tony Pritzker, invests in companies and helps them grow. One good Chicago example is SMS Assist, a fast-growing property management tech company. Goldman Sachs followed suit, investing $150 million at a billion-dollar valuation.
Pritzker has spent a lifetime behind the scenes helping elect Democrats at all levels. In 1998, he ran unsuccessfully for the House seat held by Jan Schakowsky. In 2008, he served as Clinton’s national campaign co-chair in her bid for president. This year, he contributed $14 million to the campaign and related Democratic organizations, and he raised millions more to become Clinton’s top fundraiser.
He joins a club of Democrats batting around the idea of running for governor that includes businessman Chris Kennedy, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and city Treasurer Kurt Summers.
Giannoulias joins Obama in Greece
Alexi Giannoulias is part of the entourage joining President Barack Obama in Greece.
Giannoulias, an executive with BNY Mellon Wealth Management and former state treasurer, is Greek American and speaks conversational Greek. He knows the country well, having played basketball for the Panionios Athens pro basketball team for a year in the late 1990s.
The trip includes a state dinner, sight-seeing at the Acropolis and a visit to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which supports education, social welfare, health and arts, and culture.
While news reports about the visit are focusing on Obama’s comments about President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. election’s affect on the economy, Greeks are excited just to see Obama. Newspapers in Athens — and there are a lot of them — have been writing about his arrival and the attention Obama can bring to Greece’s refugee crisis.
When Ikram’s on the board
Ikram Goldman is a powerful name in fashion, known internationally as a buyer of haute couture for the Chicago boutique that bears her name.
She’s also a board member of Chicago-based Erikson Institute, a graduate school for educators in child development.
When Erikson wanted to showcase its work and celebrate its 50 years — it was co-founded by Barbara Bowman and the late Irving Harris — Goldman had an idea.
“Whether it’s about education or teachers or psychology or therapy, it always comes back to the kids,” she told me at Erikson’s annual fundraising luncheon.
Goldman brought together young models and a creative team to produce a window display at Erikson’s 451 N. LaSalle St. headquarters. It features children celebrating and a message: “Nothing matters more than a child’s early years.”
The window has been raising awareness. This week’s luncheon, with 700 attendees, raised more than $1.1 million.
Along with Goldman, attendees included civic leaders Lester and Renee Crown and Joan Harris (widow of Irving), businessman Neal Zucker and businesswoman Pam Netzky, whose wife, Ashley Hemphil Netzky, co-chaired the event.
Honors for Hobson, Lucas
Chicago businesswoman Mellody Hobson and her film producer husband, George Lucas, will be honored with a humanitarian award by a foundation started by director Steven Spielberg.
The Shoah Foundation/The Institute for Visual History and Education records the personal histories of Holocaust survivors. It will recognize the couple for their commitment to “dynamic and innovative humanitarian efforts” and their longtime support of the foundation, Spielberg said in a release.
Hobson, the president of Ariel Investments, and Lucas made headlines over the past two years for their efforts to bring the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to Chicago. That failed, and the couple is now looking to build the museum on the West Coast.
They’ll be honored at the organization’s annual Ambassador for Humanity Award gala on Dec. 8 in Los Angeles. Actor Harrison Ford is on the guest list.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.