Focusing On His Pandemic Response, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker Announces Re-election Bid

Illinois Governor Economic Plan
First-term Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday that he'll run for re-election in November 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky File) / Associated Press
Illinois Governor Economic Plan
First-term Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday that he'll run for re-election in November 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky File) / Associated Press

Focusing On His Pandemic Response, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker Announces Re-election Bid

Incumbent Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced Monday that he will be running for re-election in November 2022.

The first-term Democrat’s campaign issued a brief statement and video focusing almost entirely on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pritzker says he’s running for a second term in part because he’s seen people in the state stand up for each other.

“I may not have gotten every decision right, but at every step along the way I focused on the science and focused on protecting the lives and livelihoods of the people of Illinois,” Pritzker said in the produced video. “Part of why I’m running for re-election is because I watched the heroes across our state step up and do the right thing. ”

Earlier this month, one other Democrat came forward to announce her bid for Illinois governor. Beverly Miles, an activist from Chicago’s West Side, said she intended to seek the Democratic nomination for governor in next year’s June 28th primary. She came in fourth place in a bid to unseat Chicago Alderman Jason Ervin in 2019’s city elections.

So far, three Republicans have announced they’re competing for the GOP gubernatorial nomination next June: State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, businessman Gary Rabine and former State Sen. Paul Schimpf.

Several more Republicans have also publicly toyed with the idea of running for governor, including sitting U.S. Representatives who are unsure of what their districts will look like next year as the state’s Democrats draw new legislative boundaries.

Pritzker’s announcement is not surprising. He once again is showing a willingness to spare no expense as he seeks re-election. As of last week, he reported having more than $32.8 million in his campaign fund, thanks to a $35 million contribution he gave his campaign in March.

The heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, Pritzker is a billionaire who self-funded his successful campaign for Illinois governor in 2018, soundly defeating Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner.

One of the few challengers to Pritzker who has shown a willingness to spend that kind of money in recent years is billionaire Citadel CEO Ken Griffin. Griffin largely funded the effort to ultimately defeat one of Pritzker’s biggest 2018 election platforms of changing the state constitution to allow for a graduated state income tax from its current flat income tax structure.

Griffin has not financially supported any Republican candidate so far, and he hasn’t indicated he would run for the position himself.

While Pritzker did not detail policies besides his COVID-19 response in his re-election announcement, he made it clear he intends to contrast his response to President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic as part of the campaign.

“In Washington, science took a back seat to politics,” an unidentified narrator states in Pritzker’s video.

Last week, Pritzker acknowledged that “decisions will be made” if COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state.

“We had so much to accomplish and we were able to do that together,” Pritzker concludes in his video. “I’m very proud of all of the people of the state of Illinois and we have so much more we can do together.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified Ken Griffin’s title at Citadel.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.