Chicago billionaire J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday that he’s “seriously considering” running for Illinois governor in 2018.
“I’ve listened to people throughout Illinois, and it’s clear that our government isn’t working effectively for them,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Governor Rauner has failed to address the real needs and concerns facing our state.”
“We need a new leader with a record of getting results, who wakes up every day thinking about improving the lives of working families and people across Illinois,” he added.
Pritzker’s announcement came shortly after fellow Chicago Democrat Chris Kennedy declared his candidacy in the race Wednesday. Kennedy is the second high-profile Democrat to throw his hat in the ring after Ald. Amaya Pawar declared his candidacy last month.
The Pritzkers, who are perhaps most famous for owning the Hyatt hotel chain, are one of the country’s wealthiest families. Last year, Forbes listed J.B. Pritzker as the 190th richest person in the U.S., with an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion.
Pritzker’s deep pockets will undoubtedly be a major asset if he decides to run against Kennedy, a businessman who has considerable personal wealth, and Gov. Bruce Rauner, who dumped $50 million into his own campaign fund in December.
Pritzker has deep ties to Democratic politics. In 1998, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Illinois’ 9th Congressional district, losing to Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the Democratic primary. As a key Democratic donor, Pritzker was one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest fundraisers in 2016. His sister, Penny Pritzker, served as the U.S. Commerce Secretary during President Barack Obama's second term in the White House.
With Kennedy and Pritzker's recent announcements, the Democratic field for the 2018 governor's race seems to be taking shape. In addition, Rep. Cheri Bustos told the Quad-City Times Tuesday that she has given herself 30 days to decide whether she’ll join the field.