The Rundown: Illinois’ richest man vs. Pritzker

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, at Abundant Faith Christian Center in Springfield, Ill. John O’Connor File / AP Photo
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, at Abundant Faith Christian Center in Springfield, Ill. John O’Connor File / AP Photo

The Rundown: Illinois’ richest man vs. Pritzker

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Good afternoon! It’s Thursday, and the U.S. is staring down a shortage of Santas. Guess I’m going to have to dress up for the nephews this year. Here’s what you need to know today.

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1. Richest man in Illinois vows to back a candidate against Pritzker

Billionaire Ken Griffin says he plans to go “all in” to support a candidate who can defeat Gov. JB Pritzker. Griffin is the founder and CEO of Chicago-based Citadel, a hedge-fund firm, and is the wealthiest person in Illinois, according to Forbes.

In an interview during the New York Times Dealbook summit yesterday, Griffin accused Pritzker’s governing style of being “all about politics. It’s not about people.”

Pritzker’s campaign and the Illinois Democratic Party responded by pointing to Griffin’s support of former Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican who served a single term in office and lost to Pritzker in 2018.

“We look forward to finding out who Ken Griffin picks to be Bruce Rauner 2.0,” a party official told the Chicago Sun-Times. [S-T]

2. Illinois could be on the verge of another wave of COVID-19 infections

The state over the past week has averaged more than 3,000 cases per day — “a 41% increase from the previous week and the highest level since late September,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

“This recent increase could mark the beginning of yet another wave,” a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health told the newspaper.

An analysis from the Trib found the rise in infections is notable in two regions: northern Illinois west of the greater Chicago area, and the central-east part of the state. [Tribune]

Health experts say the U.S. could face a fifth wave, but the availability of vaccinations should mean it will not be as bad as last winter’s surge. [Washington Post]

Meanwhile, a recent study found the coronavirus spreads easily among white-tailed deer, and NPR reports “the animals could carry the virus indefinitely and spread it back to humans periodically.” [NPR]

3. The Chicago Tribune fact-checks Kyle Rittenhouse’s testimony

As he took the stand yesterday in his murder trial, Kyle Rittenhouse told jurors he is a student at Arizona State University, where he is studying nursing.

But a university spokesman told the Chicago Tribune that Rittenhouse “has not gone through the admissions process with Arizona State University and is not enrolled in the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation.”

The newspaper reports the 18-year-old instead “started a non-degree seeking online program Oct. 13 — less than three weeks before the trial began.”

Rittenhouse also said he did not look at social media in the hours after he killed two people during racial justice protests last year in Kenosha, Wis. But public records show Rittenhouse was aware videos of the shootings were being widely shared online. [Tribune]

4. McDonald’s workers want the CEO fired after he blamed parents for the fatal shootings of two children

McDonald’s workers and a dozen advocacy groups are calling on the company’s board of directors to fire CEO Chris Kempczinski for comments he made in a text message exchange with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

In the April 19 exchange, Kempczinski addressed the shootings of 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams and 13-year-old Adam Toledo to Lightfoot, texting: “p.s. tragic shootings in last week, both at our restaurant yesterday and with Adam Toldeo [sic]. With both, the parents failed those kids which I know is something you can’t say. Even harder to fix.”

Workers and their supporters say Kempczinski’s comments are racist and requested a meeting with him. That meeting never happened, and now they are calling for Kempczinski’s removal.

Kempczinski has since apologized in a video for his remarks, saying, “Those comments were wrong, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry I let you down. And I let myself down.” [WBEZ]

5. Some dude caught a huge carp in Chicago’s Humboldt Park lagoon

This story is so amazing. A bighead carp weighing 72 pounds, 9 ounces — heavier than the Illinois record — was caught in the Humboldt Park lagoon, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Jarrett Knize reeled in the beast when he went bass fishing at the lagoon over the weekend. Things looked like they could have gone south, as Knize says he forgot to bring a net with him. But luckily a neighbor was nearby and went back to Knize’s place to fetch a big salmon net, the newspaper reports.

The carp is larger than a 69-pound bighead carp found in downstate Illinois that is the current record holder. Knize’s carp will set a new record if it gets the OK from the state’s chief of fisheries. [Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • House Republicans who backed the infrastructure bill are facing a backlash, with one lawmaker saying he received a death threat. [AP]
  • A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the release of records sought by a Jan. 6 panel from former President Donald Trump. [AP]
  • London’s Thames River, once declared biologically dead, is now home to hundreds of species, including sharks. [NPR]
  • Gramaphone Records, which has been in Chicago now for more than 50 years, has been a crucial cultural hub for DJs, musicians and everyday lovers of music. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Man, I’ve had some ragers back in my day, but I can’t remember anything like this: Michigan’s attorney general got wasted at a football game and wrote about the misadventure on Facebook.

The attorney general, Dana Nessel, wrote she thought it would be a good idea to drink two bloody marys on an empty stomach because “as long as you put enough vegetables in them, it’s practically a salad.”

But that turned out to be wishful thinking, because the AG wrote she began feeling ill at the Oct. 30 football game between the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Spartans of Michigan State. Her friend recommended that she leave “so as to prevent me from vomiting on any of my constituents,” she wrote.

Nessel has apologized to the “entire state of Michigan for this mishap, but especially that Michigan fan sitting behind me.” [NBC News]

Tell me something good …

The holidays are quickly approaching, and I’m buying presents earlier this year. So I’d like to know: What are your favorite places to shop locally?

P.Kaye writes:

“Some of my favorite small Chicago businesses are Foursided ( a few locations), Art Effect in Lincoln Park, Sandbox Baby Boutique and Cowboys and Astronauts — both in Andersonville — and Unabridged Bookstore in Lake View East. You can find gifts for anyone on your list if you hit these places.”

And Jennifer Loudon writes:

“ENJOY, an urban general store in Lincoln Square, is the BEST place I have found to shop for the thoughtful, the political, the quirky, the interesting and the curious of almost any age. I always walk out with an amazing assortment of interesting, fun, thoughtful and funny gifts. I didn’t know I needed a sassy oven mitt until I walked in here! Also the warmest winter socks this side of Anchorage.”

Where do you like to shop? Feel free to email me at or tweet me at @whuntah, and your responses might be shared here this week.

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