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Together, Pritzker, Rauner spending $120,000 a day on campaign

J.B. Pritzker, right, and Gov. Bruce Rauner, left. Sun-Times File Photos by Max Herman.

More than $100,000 a day.

That’s how much billionaire J.B. Pritzker is spending on average since entering the race for governor three months ago.

In that same time, Gov. Bruce Rauner is spending nearly $21,000 a day — and he doesn’t have a Republican opponent thus far. Rauner’s spending doesn’t include $1.5 million he gave to the Illinois Republican party.

It all underscores how Illinois’ gubernatorial race is shaping up to be the most expensive in the nation. And campaign finance reports on file this week give a snapshot of the lavish spending — with the March primary still eight months away.

Pritzker — who is self-funding his campaign — spent $9.26 million from April 1 through the end of June, according to required quarterly filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

That averages out to $101,841.06 a day. Pritzker spent most of that money —  more than $7 million — on television, digital advertising and campaign mailers.  The North Side Democrat began running TV ads on May 2, and has also been inundating homes with mailers.

“His spending is not surprising. I’ve heard people report to us that they’re getting multiple Pritzker mailers a week,” said Sarah Brune, executive director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Rauner had a cool $67.6 million on hand at the end of the reporting period. That includes the $20 million hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, the state’s richest man, contributed to his campaign in May. And that’s not even the governor’s largest contribution. That would be the $50 million Rauner gave to his own campaign last year.

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Among Rauner’s top expenditures were more than $1 million in media buys. He also spent more than $234,000 on telemarketing, or robocalls.

It was state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, who had the most outside contributions among Democrats, reporting $1,013,798.87 received, plus $2,289.87 in in-kind contributions. That more than tripled the $314,331.01 in contributions that Biss received from January through March.

His campaign spent $265,709.77, with more than a quarter of that — $70,000 — going to 270 Strategies, a digital advertising and consulting firm that worked on campaigns for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Cory Booker.

Democratic candidates, from left to right, Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman, Chris Kennedy, Ameyar Pawar, and J.B. Pritzkerparticipate in a debate/forum at PUSH/Rainbow Coalition convention on Friday, June 14, 2017. File Photo. | Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

The surge in contributions left Biss with $2,340,170.17 on hand.  Biss’ contributions showed his ability to raise money from traditional Democratic sources, Brune noted, but also from individual donors, with those contributions ranging from $1 to $50,000.

Businessman Chris Kennedy reported nearly $704,000 in contributions during the latest filing period and had $958,670 on hand. He also spent more than $652,000 — the third highest total of spending in the race. Kennedy reported $907,427.61 on hand after the first reporting period closed at the end of March.

Kennedy on Monday named Bill Daley, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and former chief of staff to President Obama, as his campaign finance chairman. Daley, younger brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, gave $10,000 to the campaign.

Larry David, “Seinfeld” co-creator, contributed $1,000 to Kennedy’s campaign, filings show.

Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, has spent time outside of Illinois fundraising. Brune noted many of his donors came from the East or West coasts, many in California, New York and Virginia: “It’s not uncommon for some of the contributions to come from other states but he had a larger amount of contributions from other states,” she said.

Ald. Ameya Pawar reported $139,210.30 in contributions along with $11,670 in kind, a steep dropoff from the $294,351.60 in contributions and $31,802.70 in kind that he reported in the first quarter of the year. The Northwest side alderman’s campaign spent $155,979.67, and had $229,433.68 on hand.

State Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, received $66,259 with $1,544.13 in kind, filings show. He spent $3,994.38, leaving $347,247.35 on hand.

Madison County schools Supt. Bob Daiber reported $13,788.71 in contributions plus $4,147.09 in-kind. The downstate administrator reported $41,154.93 in expenditures and $30,000 in other obligations, leaving $10,163.95 on hand.

Small business owner Alex Paterakis is also in the running for the Democratic nomination. He didn’t move any of the $5,000 that he has had on hand for his campaign since last December. Also, anti-violence activist Tio Hardiman is also running, but he hasn’t filed with the state board of elections.