Pritzker not happy about Griffin’s election losses

After defeating his billionaire nemesis Kenneth Griffin, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said he was unhappy to see the hedge fund mogul’s list of Republican candidates go down the election tubes this week, including including Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.

As part of a declared bid to do ‘everything’ to defeat Pritzker’s re-election this fall, Griffin poured $50 million into Irvin’s Republican gubernatorial bid, only to see his staggering investment shrivel up with third place for Irvin in the six-man primary on Tuesday.

In an extensive interview with WBEZ after that election, Pritzker made it clear that he had no intention of celebrating the defeat of Griffin’s nominees for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. A political rivalry dubbed the “Battle of the Billionaires” was an uphill battle that Griffin started, not him, the governor said.

“It’s not about me. It’s on him,” Pritzker said.

At the same South Loop hotel where Pritzker delivered his victory speech over a nominal primary challenger, the governor spoke about the fall campaign against GOP nominee Darren Bailey, efforts to make Illinois a “safe haven for those seeking abortions and his pledge not to run for president against Democrat Joe Biden in 2024.

Pritzker, a first-term Democrat, also reflected on the heightened US House hearings on Jan. 6 and said he believed last week’s blockbuster testimony from a former senior Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff could provide enough evidence to justify Trump’s criminal indictment. .

State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, was the runaway winner of the Republican gubernatorial primary, and Pritzker has previously targeted the downstate farmer for his views on abortion and glowing endorsement he received from Trump, two issues that play heavily in the fall campaign.

Defeating Irvin and four others, Bailey and his strategists managed to turn him into a downstate grain farmer, ready to take a flamethrower for state overspending in Springfield and take on the governor. state billionaire.

Bailey has a solid presence on Facebook, with over 100,000 followers. He offers daily videos talking about everything from the day’s weather to his political travels and disdain for Democrats to his relationship with God. Most messages include Bible readings and prayers.

Pritzker, meanwhile, is leading a charge to keep abortions legal and accessible in Illinois after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade’s landmark 49-year-old opinion last week. Bailey has won support from anti-abortion groups and has pledged to tighten access to abortions, if elected, and restore Illinois’ parental notification law.

The governor recently ordered state lawmakers to return to Springfield to pass new abortion legislation and renewed his commitment to ensure Illinois remains a “safe haven” for those seeking abortions, both here and women from out of state.

“We just need to secure what Illinois is, which is a haven – a safe haven – for people who want to exercise those rights. We will not provide money to people from out of state who wish to exercise these rights. But they will be able to come here, and we want to help them find private sources if they want to support their ability to exercise those rights,” he said.

“But it’s my job to protect the women of the state of Illinois and also the people who want to come here to protect their own rights,” the governor said.

On Donald Trump, Pritzker said he watched US House hearings on January 6 and was alarmed this week when Cassidy Hutchinson testified about what she saw in the White House before and during the insurrection when she was one of White’s chief aides. Mark Meadows House Chief of Staff.

In her resounding testimony, she told the committee that she heard Trump cheering the Secret Service to ditch the magnetometers so that the former president’s armed supporters can walk to the Capitol unhindered.

“I was shocked and dismayed to hear that the president knew there were people carrying guns, and he said, according to her, ‘It’s okay. Take out the magnetometers. They’re not looking to shoot me. “I mean, think about it. He tacitly acknowledges that it’s okay if they’re looking to shoot other people, like the people he criticizes like Nancy Pelosi or other Democrats,” said Pritzker.

“He knew what was going on,” the governor said.

Pritzker said he believes Hutchinson’s testimony, along with other evidence presented by the House committee, should lead to criminal charges against Trump.

“I’m not someone who’s ever been a prosecutor or in the Department of Justice, but it seems to me that if you can combine that with evidence that he was plotting behind the scenes, I think that’s enough to indict someone.” one,” says Pritzker.

Another headline-grabbing element of Hutchinson’s testimony concerns his account of Trump trying to grab the steering wheel of his Secret Service detail as he drove to the White House after speaking at his “Stop the Steal”.

She testified under oath that Trump was furious that his security team ignored his request to take her to the Capitol after his speech and reached “the collarbones” of his top security official, a claim Trump and his allies have claimed. denied.

Asked if he could imagine reaching for the steering wheel of one of his security detail members or getting physical with one in a fit of anger, Pritzker replied, “Absolutely not. And if you’ve seen my details, you don’t want to get physical with any of them. They will throw you away.

Trump appears to be aiming for another presidential race in 2024, but has not officially declared his candidacy. Democrats across the country worried about Biden’s re-election chancesgiven that his approval ratings are in the upper 30 bracket, dragged down by the economy and his inability to push key issues — like voting rights — through Congress.

Biden’s apparent vulnerability and threat to hurt downside Democrats has led to questions about who might emerge as a viable replacement among Democrats. But Pritzker made it clear to WBEZ that he would not be part of it. Pritzker’s potential viability as a presidential candidate himself was highlighted during a recent trip to New Hampshire, home of the nation’s first presidential primary.

“I have no interest in challenging Joe Biden in 2024,” Pritzker said. “I will support him if he runs for office. I am a Democrat [and] think we need to elect a Democrat. And I think Joe Biden has already said he’s a candidate for re-election.

This cautious language apparently protects the possibility of making a run if Biden were to drop out of a re-election race.

Here at home, Pritzker put up impressive numbers on Tuesday despite only facing a nominal challenger. Scoring at least 753,000 votes in a largely uncontested primary, Pritzker surpassed his 2018 primary tally and nearly eclipsed the total number of votes cast this year for all six gubernatorial candidates combined. Bailey, on the other hand, got at least 453,000 votes on Tuesday.

“I truly believe that the… people who live in this state are not extremists. I think it comes from the numbers [Tuesday]Pritzker said. “People wanted to show up and vote in the Democratic primary, if only to say we’re not with these extremists.”

With Bailey’s victory in the primary and downstate attorney Thomas DeVore’s victory in the attorney general’s primary — a lawyer who helped Bailey fight a legal fight against public health mandates in the State during the pandemic – Pritzker said the Republican Party in Illinois has veered sharply to the right. It’s an area general election voters will reject and a sign that the state’s GOP has no room for moderate Republicans, the governor said.

“They will continue to be a minority party if they continue to move further and further to the right. There is a huge schism within the Republican Party. They’re going to have to sort this out on their own. But they’ve now nominated outright hardline Republicans, Trumpy, MAGA to represent them in the gubernatorial race. [and] the Attorney General’s race.

“I mean, we’re going to have to fight to make sure these people never see a statewide office,” the governor said.

Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association poured millions into ads during Bailey’s primary promotion because Democrats considered him a better fall match than Irvin, who was more socially moderate than Bailey and had access to Griffin’s seemingly endless supply of funding dollars. .

Now, Griffin’s continued financial commitment to Illinois Republicans is in serious question, potentially giving Pritzker a huge resource advantage over Bailey.

Bailey’s main benefactor was Lake Forest businessman Richard Uihlein, who committed over $9 million to his main campaign. But that’s a relatively small number next to what the billionaire governor poured into his 2018 gubernatorial effort.

Asked if re-election this fall would cost more than $170 million in his first election in 2018, Pritzker replied, “Listen, I’m going to get our message out in the general election, whatever it takes. And I continue to do it every day. I think people listen to my message and believe in the direction of the state.

Dave McKinney covers Illinois government and politics. Follow him on Twitter at @davemckinney.

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