Todd Ricketts, the Chicago Cubs board member who runs an influential super PAC, hosted a Wednesday night barbecue at his Wilmette home to benefit likely Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Irony note: About the same time, Laura Ricketts, his sister, who also sits on the Cubs board, was a co-host at a fundraiser for Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton at the Lincoln Park home of retired media executive Fred Eychaner.

Walker was in Chicago on Wednesday for two events for his political action committee, named “Unintimidated,” which is financing Walker’s run until he officially declares that he is in the 2016 race.

Picking up the backing of Ricketts — who has supported Walker in his Wisconsin elections — is a big deal for Walker, who is trying to break out of a very crowded GOP 2016 field.

I am told that about 100 folks attended the Ricketts backyard event for Walker — with cheeseburgers off the grill and beer — and that “very significant” money was raised. The Unintimidated PAC can take unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations.

Likely White House candidate Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor — this likely thing is a fig leaf; Bush and Walker are going to run — has locked in a lot of the Illinois GOP establishment, fundraising several times in Chicago for his “Right to Rise” PAC.

But when it comes to the March 2016 Republican primary in Illinois, no one in the large and growing Republican 2016 field has a decisive edge. And there are lots of activist Republicans in Illinois who are big donors who never follow the establishment Republicans, whose politics tend toward the moderate.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will visit the Chicago area next Wednesday to headline the DuPage County Lincoln Day Dinner and appear at a series of events in the city to highlight what his campaign said were “failed liberal policies.”

The DuPage County event is important for Paul in Illinois because DuPage is home to a massive number of GOP voters.

Paul, who announced his White House bid last month, will “discuss unequal economic opportunity, failing schools and the broken criminal justice systems that plague cities all across the U.S., including Chicago” during his visit, according to his campaign.