Edit Module NEW:Check out our picks for Best of Chicago!
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module

Heavy Hitters Make Governor’s Race a Clash of the Titans

Among a crowded Democratic field, the big money players are J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy.

Chris Kennedy (left) and J.B. Pritzker   Photos: (Kennedy) Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune; (Pritzker) Bob Stefko

It’s a crowded field already, but the Democratic primary race notably includes two candidates whose family coffers match the power of Bruce Rauner’s war chest. We go five rounds with these power players.

Note: This story was published on March 7; J.B. Pritzker officially announced his candidacy on April 6.

CHRIS KENNEDY, 53
Businessman, former head of the Merchandise Mart, former chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, the bland Kennedy
J.B. PRITZKER, 52
An heir to the Hyatt fortune, venture capitalist, one-time (failed) U.S. congressional candidate, sign-toting travel-ban protester
Family Clout
The son of RFK and nephew of JFK has political ambition in his DNA and the cachet of a family dynasty. But he’ll need more than an aging Camelot appeal to dazzle these voters. As Chicago royalty, he has a surname immortalized in half the institutions in town and a sister, Penny, with some hefty political chops from her stint as Obama’s secretary of commerce.
Spending Potential
The family fortune is estimated at $1 billion across some 30 relatives, according to Forbes. It’s unclear how big a piece belongs to Chris, but he’s said he’ll “have the resources to compete.” At No. 190 on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion, he could match whatever Kennedy pulls from his personal coffers and raise him—by a lot.
Relatability
OK, everyone’s prone to the occasional gaffe. But spurning a bunch of reporters? (See: the elevator incident at the DNC.) Maaaaybe not the best way to endear yourself. He’s got a hint of Everyman likability. The Sun-Times called him “a familiar face at his daughter’s cross-country meets.” Go, Dad. That transgender bathroom tweet, though? Clumsy misfire.
Rauner Run-Ins
To defend himself against a Rauner-led offensive that referred to Kennedy as a “pawn” and “lap dog” of Mike Madigan, he skewered the gov for pointing fingers instead of compromising. The GOP’s Blago-themed robocalls were an assault on Pritzker’s character, but his camp lampooned the preemptive smear with a dig at Rauner’s, uh, to-do list. (About that budget …)
Vision for Illinois
Revive the American dream through compromise to create jobs and restore the economy—you know, make Illinois great again. Judging by his résumé: Create a tech-savvy state that can play with the big kids in the digital sector and attract innovative ventures.
Likely Winner: Pritzker
Our money is on the billionaire. Kennedy’s past wishy-washiness could hurt him in a campaign. Plus, after reportedly being primed for a Hillary cabinet post that vanished in front of his eyes, Pritzker is motivated.

Share

Edit Module

Advertisement

Edit Module
Submit your comment

Comments are moderated. We review them in an effort to remove foul language, commercial messages, abuse, and irrelevancies.

Edit Module