J.B. Pritzker mulling whether to run for governor
November 15th, 2016
J.B. Pritzker, once rumored to be in line for a Cabinet job in a Hillary Clinton presidency, has been approached by Democratic leaders about running for governor–and he’s mulling it over.
The Chicago venture capitalist is a billionaire and wouldn’t be burdened by financial concerns in competing with Rauner, another wealthy Chicago businessmen. Rauner spent $65.3 million to become Illinois’ governor in 2014. Money like that could scare off opponents–but not Pritzker, who Forbes lists as having a $3.4 billion net worth.
Pritzker did not return a request for comment.
I hear Pritzker is mulling the idea because he sees Rauner as failing in his job to manage the state. Pritzker is an active and vocal philanthropist particularly concerned about early-childhood education and is especially sensitive to how Rauner’s leadership is affecting under-served communities.
Pritzker hasn’t said yes–or no–to running in 2018. He may be considering how a political campaign might affect his family. He and his wife, M.K., have a son and daughter, both school age. Pritzker is a familiar face at his daughter’s cross-country meets.
Pritzker’s wealth began with Hyatt hotels, which were co-founded by his late father. But the younger Pritzker has gone his own way, becoming a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Pritzker Group Venture Capital, which he runs with his brother, Tony Pritzker, invests in companies and helps them grow. It recently invested in SMS Assist, for example, a fast-growing start-up for property managers. Goldman Sachs followed suit and invested $150 million, giving the company a billion-dollar valuation.
Pritzker has spent a lifetime behind the scenes helping elect Democrats at all levels. In 1998, he ran unsuccessfully for the Congressional seat held by Jan Schakowsky. In 2008, he served as Clinton’s national campaign co-chair in her bid for president. This year, he contributed $14 million to the campaign and related Democratic organizations and he raised another $20 million–more than any other fundraiser.
He joins a club of Democrats batting around the idea of running for governor that includes businessman Chris Kennedy, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and city Treasurer Kurt Summers.