Dollars and Sense: Here's How Much Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker Spent on Their Campaigns for Illinois Governor - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Dollars and Sense: Here's How Much Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker Spent on Their Campaigns for Illinois Governor

The Illinois governor’s race will be remembered as one of the ugliest ever but also as one in which the two main candidates -- one a billionaire and the other a near-billionaire -- raised over $255 million.

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Dollars and Sense: What Rauner, Pritzker Spent on their Campaign

    The Illinois governor’s race will be remembered as one of the ugliest ever but also as one in which the two main candidates -- one a billionaire and the other a near-billionaire -- raised over $255 million. NBC 5's Carol Marin reports.

    (Published Monday, Nov. 5, 2018)

    Ask Jay Young, the executive director of Common Cause in Illinois, what he thinks of the campaign spending of J.B. Pritzker and Bruce Rauner and he sums it up in one word: "depressing."

    The totals are staggering.

    Democrat Pritzker has spent $171 million of his wealth to try and become governor. Rauner, following his first election, has spent close to $70 million of his own money.

    The Illinois governor’s race will be remembered as one of the ugliest ever but also as one in which the two main candidates -- one a billionaire and the other a near-billionaire -- raised over $255 million.

    "I work for a national organization, and when I talk to my colleagues, their mouths drop,” Young said.

    Yes, he said, Rauner and Pritzker are advancing ideas they believe in, but the seemingly unlimited money, he believes, causes great concern.

    "The concern is that just the amount of resources they have at their disposal tend to drown out all those other voices," Young said in an interview at his Chicago office. "This money, it’s a plague, unfortunately, on our electoral system."

    "It is very hard for the average person to be able to run effectively," echoed Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

    "We have to completely reform how we finance elections or very soon we will not have democracy," he said.

    And it’s not just in the governor’s race where the big money is flowing. These days the race for a two-year term in the Illinois House can reach seven figures.

    "We already have about 39 races, I believe, state House races that are in excess of a million dollars,” Young noted. "Several that are $2- to $3-million."

    Then consider the campaign account of Friends of Michael J. Madigan. According to state records, the Speaker of the Illinois House reported $6.8 million in his campaign account at the end of September.

    Since Oct. 1, he has added another $3.2 million.

    And he is running unopposed.

    In the closing days of the election cycle, Madigan gave Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul a $1 million campaign contribution. Raoul is in a hotly contested race with Republican Erika Harold. They are both vying for the seat held by the retiring Lisa Madigan, daughter of the Speaker.

    Get the latest from NBC Chicago anywhere, anytime

    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android