CHICAGO The race for Illinois governor will be a battle between two deep-pocketed candidates whove already sunk more than $120 million of their own money into the contest, putting it on pace to become the costliest such campaign in U.S. history.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a wealthy former private equity investor, defeated conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives on Tuesday for the GOP nomination.
We are in a critical time, a critical turning point in Illinois, Rauner told supporters. I am humbled by this victory. You have given me a chance to win the battle against corruption that plagues Illinois.
He will face Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker, an investor and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune. Pritzker easily won the primary over Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy; and Daniel Biss, 40, a state senator who campaigned as the middle-class candidate.
Pritzker, 53, already has spent more than $70 million to bankroll his campaign, while Rauner has put in about $50 million and has received millions more from his wealthy friends in the business community. Combined theyre expected to top California in 2010 as the nations most expensive governors race.
Pritzker pledged to defeat Rauner but told supporters we have a real fight ahead of us.
Tonight, weve taken the next step of beating Bruce Rauner and putting Illinois back on the side of working families, he told a cheering crowd at his campaign party. I will fight today, and tomorrow, and every day of this election and every day after to get our state back on track.
Rauner, 61, took advantage of a national GOP wave four years ago to pull off a surprising victory in a state otherwise dominated by Democrats and win his first political office. Rauners personal wealth is just shy of $1 billion, but Pritzker an investor and one of the heirs to the Hyatt hotel chain is worth several times more.
Ives raised just $4 million less than any of the other prominent candidates. Once dismissed by Rauner as a fringe candidate, she gave him a tougher-than-expected race, attacking the governors conservative credentials in edgy TV ads. One of them, which the chairman of the state GOP blasted as a cowardly attempt to stoke political division, portrays actors mockingly thanking Rauner for not doing enough to restrict illegal immigration, abortion and transgender bathroom rights.
In other races on the Illinois primary ballot, former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn whom Rauner ousted in 2014 was locked in a tough competition with state Sen. Kwame Raoul for state attorney general. There also are numerous contested congressional primary races, including progressive candidate Marie Newmans challenge to seven-term Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski.
But none involved the kind of spending as seen in the governors race. Personal wealth solidified Rauner and Pritzkers front-runner status but also made them frequent targets for opponent attacks. Even Kennedy spent $2 million of his own money on the race.
Biss, a Harvard-educated mathematician who gave up teaching to enter politics, set up a website to track what he says is a $171,000-a-day campaign by Pritzker. The Democratic front-runner has been advertising on television from nearly the moment he announced his candidacy 11 months ago.
Pritzkers opponents also have attacked his connections with overseas trusts in low-tax countries, though he maintains theyre focused on charitable giving and that he has no control over them. In response, Biss has called him a fraud while Kennedy labeled him a liar.
But far ...