Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Democratic Super-Donor Fred Eychaner Talks Quinn-Rauner Race

The super-rich social activist also defends Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan as "enormously skillful"

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Democratic Super-Donor Fred Eychaner Talks Quinn-Rauner Race

Fred Eychaner -- the media-shy Chicago businessman and top donor to progressive super PACs -- has emerged from the shadows for an interview with the National Journal, his first in nearly a decade.

The DeKalb-raised Eychaner, who donated a whopping $14 million to liberal PACs during the 2012 presidential race and helped finance the movement to legalize gay marriage in Illinois, sheds some insight on how he plans to spend his money this election cycle.

"I don't expect to be among the top donors this year, but I will do my share," said Eychaner, a loyal Democrat, suggesting his money is going toward Gov. Pat Quinn's re-election campaign against Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, another self-made multi-millionaire.

He added: "I am not the progressive Koch brothers."

Eychaner, who's openly gay, joined the ranks of the one percent's one percent when his media and publishing company, Newsweb Corp., sold Chicago TV station Channel 50 to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire for $425 million in 2002. He oversees the Alphawood Foundation, which provides grants for social causes and arts programs.

This year, reports the National Journal, Eychaner contributed $4 million to the Senate Majority PAC in advance of November's midterms. (The New York Times recently projected a 55 percent GOP advantage of Democrats in the battle over the Senate.)

He supported Hillary Clinton's presidential run in 2008, and it's safe to assume he'll do the same when -- er, if -- she runs in 2016.

Back to Illinois politics: Eychaner remains a fan of Michael Madigan, perhaps the most reviled power broker in Springfield, defending his decision to recruit the House Speaker for help in pushing same-sex marriage legislation that Quinn signed into law last November.

"I would go on the record with my respect for Mike Madigan, which will probably upset a lot of friends," he admitted. "He's enormously skillful at what he does. The only speakers of any House who survive are the ones who can keep their majority and keep everyone going largely in the same direction. Mike Madigan is superb at that."

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