Illinois Governor's Race: Battle of the Billionaires - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Illinois Governor's Race: Battle of the Billionaires

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WSIL -- The stage is set for November. 

Incumbent Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner will face billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker in the general election this fall. Some have labeled it "the battle of the billionaires."

Democratic primary voters gave Pritzker a decisive win over his opponents, Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy.

Fueled by a strong campaign infrastructure, which included 18 field offices and nearly 10,000 volunteers, Pritzker won 45 percent of the vote. 

Biss and Kennedy finished with 27 and 24 percent of the vote, respectively.

"I'm J.B. Pritzker and I'm going to beat Bruce Rauner and together we're going to put Springfield back on the side of working families," Pritzker said before an enthusiastic crowd at his victory party on Tuesday night. 

Pritzker pledged to fight for kitchen table issues.

"This campaign is about a fight for economic security, about jobs and wages, healthcare and education and human services, for working families in Illinois," said Pritzker. 

He also promised not to water down his progressive positions, as others have done in an attempt to attract swing voters. 

"I want to take a page from the youth of this country tonight and call B.S. on the same old playbook," Pritzker declared.

Pritzker, who has faced scrutiny for months regarding his financial ties and relationship to figures like disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said he is "not a perfect person" and won't pretend to be.

"And frankly, I've had enough of people like Donald Trump, politicians like Bruce Rauner, who can never acknowledge a flaw, never offer an apology and never take responsibility for anything or anyone under their care," said Pritzker. "I won't put on a costume and jump on a Harley and pretend to be someone I'm not."

In a memo to reporters on Wednesday, Pritzker's campaign manager, Anne Caprara, highlighted what the campaign believes were its keys to victory. It included: a strong infrastructure and message, Democratic voter energy, Rauner's interference in the Democratic primary, and Rauner and President Trump's unpopularity with the electorate.

"As one of the most unpopular governors in the country, Bruce Rauner heads into the general election with a splintered Republican Party and limited support," wrote Caprara. "The majority of the Illinois Republican Congressional delegation did not endorse him in the primary, moderates are concerned with his ability to lead, and conservatives feel lied to and abandoned."

On the Republican side, the road to victory wasn't as easy for Rauner, who barely survived a tougher than expected challenge from State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton. 

Rauner's narrow 51-49% victory may have served as a wake-up call for the embattled governor fighting for four more years in office.

"To those of you around the state of Illinois who wanted to send me a message, let me be clear: I have heard you," said Rauner. "While we disagree on some things, let's commit to working together on what unites us. Let's focus on the issues we agree on: reducing taxes, growing jobs, growing jobs and ending corruption through term limits."

During his victory speech, Rauner called Pritzker a pawn for House Speaker Mike Madigan, which has become one of his favorite catch phrases. 

"If he is elected, he will give total control of our state over to the machine. If that happens, turn out the lights," warned Rauner. "If we surrender to Pritzker and the machine, we will just get  higher taxes and more corruption."

On Wednesday, Rauner hit the road, visiting businesses on a new statewide tour.

He also unveiled a new attack ad against Pritzker, featuring comments from Kennedy and Biss, connecting Pritzker to Madigan.

Because both candidates are extremely wealthy and able to fund most, if not all, of their campaigns, analysts expect the race to be the most expensive governor's race in U.S. history.

Pritzker is an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune and venture capitalist. His wealth is often estimated at about $3.5 billion.

Rauner, also a venture capitalist, has a personal fortune that has been estimated at or near $1 billion. 
 

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