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Pritzker spends $7M in ads in early re-election push

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Since announcing his re-election bid in July, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has spent nearly $7 million in advertising, a sign of what confronts the four announced prospective Republican challengers seeking to take on the billionaire incumbent in next year’s election.

Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, spent more than $8.2 million from July through September, campaign finance reports showed. The first-term Democrat, who spent $171 million of his own money to defeat one-term Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018, is again self-funding his campaign and had nearly $24.7 million available in his campaign fund at the start of October.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

Republicans are looking to see if or when Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder and CEO of Citadel, will weigh in on the Republican race. Griffin contributed to Rauner and spent millions to push voter defeat of Pritzker’s top agenda item to change the state’s flat rate income tax to a graduated rate system.

Griffin has not expressed support for any of the four announced Republicans, but the field could still grow.

Among the announced Republicans, campaign finance reports for the third quarter of this year show political newcomer Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg with the most cash available to start October, $10 million. But he has not received any substantial funding since announcing his run for the Republican nomination last month with nearly $10.8 million in contributions, largely from out-of-state donors.

Sullivan, who heads the Alter Global LLC venture capital firm, has not invested any of his own money into his campaign. He has spent nearly $800,000, including nearly $319,000 with IMGE of Alexandria, Virginia, a digital marketing and fundraising firm.

State Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia, a leading statehouse opponent of Pritzker’s pandemic mitigation policies who announced his candidacy in February, raised $894,244 during the quarter and had $1 million to start October.

Bailey’s largest donors during the three-month period included $200,000 from Alex Melvin, the CEO of Mattoon-based Rural King, a chain of farm and home stores, $100,000 from Gerald Forsythe, the chairman and CEO of the Wheeling-based INDECK Cos. and $100,000 from Kaskaskia Organics LLC.

Bailey spent more than $382,500 during the reporting period, including purchasing nearly $22,000 worth of T-shirts, and donated $2,000 to South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem. who has taken a largely hands-off approach to the pandemic.

Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine reported raising more than $445,000 and spent $316,383 in the three-month period, leaving his candidacy with $416,044 to start October. Rabine announced his bid for the GOP nomination in March and seeded his campaign with nearly $251,000 in loans.

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Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo reported $73,652 in cash available to start this month, raising just over $60,000. He announced his candidacy for governor in February and began the three-month reporting period with nearly $117,000.

In the Democratic contest for the secretary of state nomination to replace retiring incumbent Jesse White, former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias led in money raised and cash on hand among the four announced contenders.

Finance reports showed Giannoulias, who served one term as treasurer before being defeated in a 2010 bid for U.S. Senate, by Republican Mark Kirk, raised more than $610,000 in the third quarter and had nearly $3.5 million in cash on hand.

Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia reported $707,211 in cash available to start October after raising more than $202,000 in the quarter. Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd, had $460,436 in cash for her bid for the office and Ald. David Moore reported $98,449 available to spend to start October.

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