Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announces bid for reelection in 2022
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced plans Monday to seek a second term.
“I can’t tell you what pride it gives me as governor of the state to see the people of Illinois standing up for one another. We saw the fundamental goodness of the people of Illinois exists in Southern Illinois as it does in Central Illinois as it does in Northern Illinois," Pritzker, 56, said in a video Monday.
Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton will stay on as the billionaire Democrat's running mate.
The Pritzker video highlighted the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and featured supporters from across the state including Jenica Krushall, a registered nurse from Springfield.
“I feel like the governor was a partner with nurses and doctors and the whole medical community,” Krushall said.
Polly Poskin of Springfield also was featured. “This was a time when we had to get it right, and Governor Pritzker did it for us,” she said.
Another one-minute video posted to the Pritzker campaign’s YouTube channel features Stratton, the state’s first Black lieutenant governor, touting the “history” of the pair’s 2020 election to the state’s executive office.
“Over these last three years we've made massive strides to move Illinois in the right direction, but we know there's still a lot of work ahead of us,” Stratton said in the ad. “We've got to help families get through the other side of the pandemic. We've got to continue tackling the systemic inequalities and barriers to justice that have been present for far too long, we've got to build on what we've started, keep putting Illinois on the right track and continue moving forward together.”
The announcement comes as the state is in the middle of a broader reopening period after more than a year of economic restrictions levied by Pritzker, largely through executive order, in response to the pandemic that has killed more than 23,000 Illinoisans.
But it also comes as the state and nation are seeing a resurgence of the virus as vaccination rates stagnate and a new more contagious variant spreads.
As the numbers rise, Pritzker’s office said Friday the governor currently has “no plan to implement any additional mitigations now that there is an abundance of vaccine available and accessible across Illinois. We encourage all Illinoisans ages 12-plus to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
But Pritzker, speaking at a news conference regarding infrastructure later Friday, said his administration is “always open to making changes in policy in order to keep people safe and healthy.”
“Obviously, we've got rising rates of infection in certain parts of the state, and decisions will be made, if those areas continue to have rising infection rates, about whether or not we need to impose some different standard for those areas,” he said, speaking of counties on the border of Missouri, which has one of the worst infection rates in the nation.
Pritzker spent $171 million of his multibillion-dollar personal fortune during his successful election to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018. In recent weeks, the governor has been bankrolling “Blue Wave Illinois” ads on social media, emphasizing Illinois Democrats’ accomplishments such as a minimum wage increase passed in 2019 and Republicans’ unanimous opposition to the measure.
While Pritzker is not expected to face any serious Democratic primary challengers, at least three Republicans have declared primary election candidacies, including businessman Gary Rabine of Burr Ridge, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, of Waterloo, and state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia.
The primary election is scheduled to take place on June 28, 2022. Lawmakers voted to shift the primary from March 15, 2022, because of the delay in census data caused by the pandemic.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy said in a statement that Pritzker’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a failure.
“Gov. Pritzker failed our most vulnerable in their time of need,” said Tracy, a Springfield resident. “When our children missed an entire year of in-person education, Pritzker was silent while political teachers unions forced children to stay home even when the science and CDC said they should be back in school.
“When thousands of Illinoisans were laid off from work, they went weeks without help from Pritzker’s incompetent state unemployment agency,” Tracy said. “And when our nation’s elderly heroes needed protection from the virus in our state facilities, the tragic mistakes of the Pritzker administration led to the death of 36 veterans at LaSalle Veterans Home.”
Republicans’ criticism of Pritzker is not surprising and is “political posturing,” said state Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield.
“You can’t say the guy you want to beat is doing a good job,” she said.
Turner said Pritzker has had a “very successful first term” and deserves a second because “there’s a lot more that needs to be done, and he is the man to lead us.”
She commended Pritzker for helping stabilize the state’s finances, promote science-based precautions and restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“Gov. Pritzker has put us in a position to be a national model for our coronavirus response,” Turner said.
The governor’s bipartisan Rebuild Illinois infrastructure program, a $45 billion initiative beginning in 2019 and lasting six years, will be “a great thing for our state,” but there’s more that the state needs to do for communities, Turner said.
Christopher Mooney, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he wasn’t surprised to learn about Pritzker bid for a second term.
“He seems like he enjoys the job,” Mooney said. “Clearly, he’s the odds on favorite to win the June primary and the general election.”
Pritzker’s personal wealth, estimated at $3.5 billion as an heir to the Hyatt fortune, is an obvious advantage, Mooney said.
On the plus side for Pritzker is that he “seemed to handle the greatest crisis of the century with some aplomb,” Mooney said.
“The public appears to think that he did a good job,” Mooney said.
Potential political liabilities for the governor, Mooney said, include his failure to follow through on a campaign promise to veto a partisan-drawn legislative redistricting map and Pritzker’s failure to win enough public support to pass a constitutional amendment instituting a progressive income tax.
But going into a campaign with “more money than Midas” and an approval rating of about 50% positions Pritzker well when his potential Republican challengers are catering to former President Donald Trump’s base in a blue state, Mooney said.
“The Republicans are busy trying to 'out-Trump' themselves,” he said.
Capitol News Illinois contributed.