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J.B. Pritzker on Saturday: At DGA big donor event on Nantucket island

JB Pritzker. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

WASHINGTON – Illinois Democratic governor candidate J. B. Pritzker, one of the biggest Democratic donors in the U.S., was at a major Democratic Governors Association fundraising event in Nantucket on Saturday.

The DGA is officially neutral in the Illinois Democratic primary – but not all the Illinois Democratic rivals were invited to this elite DGA event, attended by the top national contributors to the DGA.

Pritzker and chief rival Chris Kennedy were asked to the fundraising summer “retreat” on the Massachusetts island off the coast of Cape Cod.

Kennedy, whose family has a compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, was in Illinois on Saturday and did not attend the DGA retreat, according to his campaign advisor, Hanah Jubeh.

J.B., in a blue blazer and his wife, M.K. also in blue, were spotted on the island on Saturday morning. Galia Slayen, Pritzker’s communications director, confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times the couple were attending the weekend DGA event.

Not every Democratic 2018 candidate in the nation was invited to the DGA retreat; some contenders who traveled to Nantucket made donations to the DGA, but “not all the candidates who came wrote checks” said DGA spokesman Jared Leopold.

It’s not known if Pritzker, who is self-funding his campaign, was at Nantucket to prospect for potential donors for his own primary contest or if he was laying groundwork for the general election if he won the March Illinois Democratic primary.

Leopold, asked why all the Illinois Democratic declared candidates did not merit an invitation, said, “we work with the candidates who want to work with us.”

The DGA is expected to take on a major role in the general election campaign to defeat GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner. In Illinois, Leopold said, the “DGA is neutral in (the) primary and working with all candidates.”

A DGA staffer, Sam Salustro has been posted in Illinois to focus on Rauner while the Democratic primary plays out.

Spokesmen for other main Democratic governor candidates, state Rep. Scott Drury D-Highwood and Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) did not return emails asking about the DGA event.

However, with Pritzker apparently the only Illinois contender at the DGA fundraising retreat, Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for state Sen. Dan Biss D-Evanston, another rival said, “This is more of what we’ve already seen, and reinforces what we knew when Mike Madigan threw his weight behind Mr. Pritzker — the insiders are pushing him as the party nominee because he’s a billionaire.

“Daniel Biss believes the Democratic party should instead be building a movement of people ready to take their state back from money and the machine. That’s the choice for Democrats in this election.”