Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has spent $350M to win his 2 terms in office newstrendslive

In his two winning campaigns to become Illinois’ chief executive, billionaire Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the nation’s wealthiest politician, has spent $350 million, including more than $167 million to defeat Republican Darren Bailey by nearly 13 percentage points in November, according to newly released state and federal campaign records.

Bailey, a former state senator from downstate Xenia, spent $17.6 million on his campaign. Most of that was spent before he won the June 28 Republican primary election, with only $6 million spent between then and his loss to Pritzker in the general election, records show.

Bailey’s primary campaign was assisted by another $43.2 million from People Who Play By The Rules, a political action committee run by political operative and right-wing radio host Dan Proft of Naples, Florida. Of that total, $35.8 million was spent after the primary, records show.

The PAC was almost entirely funded by ultraconservative megadonor Richard Uihlein, who founded the Uline office supply and packaging company. Uihlein’s total outlay for the primary and general election for governor was $48 million — $6 million to Bailey’s campaign and $42 million to the aligned PAC, records showed.

Pritzker, an entrepreneur and heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune who largely self-finances his campaigns, faced no significant primary opposition in his bid for reelection, spending $140 million since he kicked off his reelection campaign with a $35 million donation in March 2021.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker dances with his wife, M.K., to "You're Still the One" during the inaugural celebration on Jan. 9, 2023, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

Pritzker gave an additional $27 million to the Democratic Governors Association, federal Internal Revenue Service reports showed. Leading up to the primary, the DGA aired ads that labeled Bailey as too conservative for Illinois in a backdoor campaign aimed at helping him defeat a better-funded GOP contender, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.

Irvin, who finished third in the GOP primary, got $50 million from billionaire Ken Griffin, the founder of the Citadel financial firm.

Pritzker’s spending, including the DGA funding, along with Bailey’s spending and that of the aligned Uihlein-funded PAC, puts a total price tag of $228 million on the campaigns of the two candidates who competed in the November general election.

The total falls short of the total spent by one-term Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a wealthy investor, and Pritzker in the 2018 campaign, which at the time was the most expensive race for state chief executive in the nation’s history. Rauner spent $79 million on his reelection bid compared with $173 million by Pritzker.

The 2018 figures dwarfed the previous record total of $112 million spent on an Illinois governor’s race four years earlier, when Rauner spent $65.3 million in defeating then-Gov. Pat Quinn.

Records show that from the time Pritzker announced his first bid for governor on April 6, 2017, through the end of 2022, his campaign fund has spent $322.6 million. Adding the $27 million he gave to the DGA puts his total spend at $349.6 million in his two campaigns for governor.

For his reelection campaign, records show Pritzker spent nearly $70 million on advertising, including non-DGA TV commercials, $20 million on consulting and more than $15 million on voter outreach, in addition to a $5 million payroll, to win reelection.

Pritzker also used $25 million to assist other Democrats and party organizations including $11.2 million to the state Democratic Party; $8 million for the Illinois House Democratic campaign fund; $2 million for the state Senate Democrats fund; $1 million apiece to Attorney General Kwame Raoul and now-Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias; and another $1 million to the Cook County Democrats.

Of the more than $17 million that Bailey spent, $12 million was for advertising and media, while $441,000 was spent on lodging — including nearly $30,000 for nine visits to the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. Bailey avidly sought and gained Trump’s endorsement.

Bailey, who often spoke on the campaign trail about thousands of volunteers knocking on voters’ doors, also paid $560,000 for “Door Knocking Service” to Higher Ground Strategies. The firm’s Glen Ellyn address is listed to a home owned by Matthew Besler, a former Rauner political adviser who is the chairman and CEO of the Illinois Opportunity Project. A co-founder of the conservative group is Proft.

Bailey, who referred to Chicago as a “hellhole” during his campaign, received only $607,709 from donors with a Chicago address. Of that total, $462,000 was from the Illinois Republican Party’s office in Chicago as an in-kind donation for postmarking Bailey mailings through the use of the GOP’s postage meter, which has a lower postal rate. Bailey reimbursed the GOP for the expense.

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