Potential 2018 Gubernatorial Candidates Make Rounds At MLK Breakfast

Potential 2018 Gubernatorial Candidates Make Rounds At MLK Breakfast

The annual Rainbow Push Martin Luther King breakfast in Chicago is always full of current and hopeful future politicians, and with 2018 just around the corner, this year was no different.

Potential candidates for governor — on both sides of the ticket — were looking to share a few voters’ hands while they celebrated King’s legacy.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner kicked off the breakfast with a bill signing for new lead legislation. Rauner has said he’d run for reelection and recently gave his campaign fund a $50 million dollar donation. That’s left some Democrats wondering if they’re going to need a wealthy candidate to run against Rauner, and billionaire businessman JB Pritzker is one of the possible names on the list.

Pritzker was spotted on stage, singing We Shall Overcome with Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and a handful of election officials. In an interview, Pritzker said he hates that money has become so important in politics.

“I’m not a guy who thinks we should turn politics into a playpen for people who are wealthy, but I’m also somebody who believes we’ve got to win in 2018,” Pritzker said. He added that he’d do his best to match Rauner’s resources.

Pritzker, whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain, says he’s a few months away from deciding if he’ll be on the ballot.

Another possible Democratic candidate, Chris Kennedy, also attended the Rainbow Push breakfast Monday, though he stressed to WBEZ that he was there for the MLK celebration, not to meet voters.

“I’m not here to meet people, this isn’t a networking opportunity for me, but I have a lot of friends in the room so it’s good to see them as well,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy was brought around the room by Illinois state Sen. Kwame Raoul, who was also thought to be a possible Democratic candidate for governor. Kennedy said he’s still thinking about if he’ll make his campaign official or not.

“I’m convinced at this point that the state of Illinois is on the wrong track,” he said.

At the end of the breakfast, former Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was also spotted shaking hands as people left the ballroom.

Lauren Chooljian covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian.