Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has formally announced his re-election campaign this week, and while he spent more than $170 million during the 2018 race, it is unclear just how far he’s going to be willing to dig into his wallet for this campaign.
Pritzker, who will be looking for a second term as governor in next year’s election, demurred when asked by NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern about how much he’d be willing to spend in the 2022 race, and said that he’s focused solely on running a “robust” campaign and on trying to help down-ticket Democrats win their races.
“I’m focused on running a robust campaign, and to make sure that we elect Democrats up and down the ticket, not just myself,” he said. “We’ve got Constitutional officers who are running for re-election, and people who are running for county board seats, and state rep and state senate (so I’ll spend) like I did in 2018 when we created Blue Wave Illinois to help everybody up and down the ticket.”
According to campaign finance records, Pritzker spent $171.5 million of his own money during his 2018 bid to unseat former Gov. Bruce Rauner, who also spent significant sums in his unsuccessful re-election campaign.
Pritzker has already drawn a Democratic challenger in the 2022 primary, as Beverly Miles, a Chicago nurse and US Army veteran, has announced a campaign for the nomination. At least three Republicans have already jumped into the field, including State Sen. Darren Bailey, who filed several legal challenges against Pritzker’s executive orders during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as businessman Gary Rabine and former State Sen. Paul Schimpf.
All three Republican candidates have been vocal in their opposition to Pritzker, with Bailey accusing the governor of “attempting to buy” the election.
“Today, our failed liberal Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he’s going to attempt to buy another election,” Bailey said in a press release. “Billionaires like Pritzker cannot relate to the struggles of working Illinois and families.”
Pritzker dismissed such criticism, saying that his election spending will solely be a matter of getting his, along with the Democratic Party’s, message out in Illinois.
“I’m just focused on making sure we get the message out there,” he said.
Pritzker also said that he will still plan to help Democrats across the country during the upcoming midterm elections, but emphasized that he did not discuss strategy or finances with President Joe Biden when the two met at the White House last week.
“I’ve always been a supporter of Democrats across the nation,” he said.