The race for Illinois governor has crossed an expensive threshold – with more than a year to go until Election Day.
The seven candidates in the race have reported a combined $104,370,831.18 in contributions over the past year, with a majority of that funding coming from the pockets of the two wealthiest candidates themselves.
In accordance with state law, candidates were required to file by Monday their quarterly reports detailing contributions and expenditures between July 1 and Sept. 30.
Incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner has raked in $71,132,481.19 since Oct. 1, 2016 – far and away the largest haul and more than twice the rest of the candidates’ totals combined, according to filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Much of the first-term Republican’s war chest – 98.4 percent, to be exact – came from just two donations, one of which he gave himself. A former private equity investor, Rauner dumped $50 million into his campaign fund in December, breaking his own record set in 2014 for the single largest political contribution in Illinois history.
Rauner also received a $20 million boost in May from billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who founded investment firm Citadel and according to Forbes, is listed as the wealthiest person in all of Illinois with an estimated net worth of $8.6 billion.
While Griffin may be the richest person in the state, he and Rauner are not the only billionaires looking to sway the election.
J.B. Pritzker is among the candidates battling for the Democratic nomination, and with an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion, the venture capitalist and Hyatt hotel heir is listed as the fifth richest person in Illinois, according to Forbes.
Shortly after launching his campaign, the longtime Democratic fundraiser poured a $7 million dollar contribution of his own into his political fund – a donation he has repeated three more times, every two months since.
That brings the total of Pritzker’s self-funding to $28.2 million (including the $200k he used to launch his exploratory committee early on) – making up nearly every dollar of the $28,208,540.91 he’s raised this year.
Democrat Chris Kennedy has also turned to his own personal wealth to fund his campaign, in part, most recently cutting his committee a $250,000 check on Sept. 29, nearly six months to the day after his first $250,100 contribution in March.
Since announcing his run in February, Kennedy has raised $2,771,081.95, a figure similar to State Sen. Daniel Biss, who’s also competing for the Democratic nomination.
Unlike Pritzker and Kennedy, Biss had an active campaign committee formed prior to announcing his gubernatorial run thanks to his time in the legislature. Since the reporting period in which he threw his hat in the ring, Biss has raised a total of $2,168,884.42, and has yet to reach into his own personal bank account, according to the State Board of Elections.
Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber is the only downstate candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, and he’s raised a total of $79,397.71 – which includes three loans he gave his campaign totaling $40,000.
Rounding out the pack of Democratic candidates are anti-violence advocate Tio Hardiman and political newcomer Alex Paterakis, who have reported $5,445 and $5,000 in contributions, respectively.
The $104.4 million total is more than just eye-popping – it puts the 2018 campaign on track to eclipse the $91 million spent over the entirety of the 2014 race.
The 2018 battle of the billionaires might even be on pace to set a record for the most expensive gubernatorial race in U.S. history.
That distinction belongs to California’s 2010 contest, in which Democrat Jerry Brown defeated Republican Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who, like some of Illinois’ candidates, reached into her personal fortune to fund her run.
The prospect of Illinois’ election claiming the historic title is even more stunning when taking population into account, considering California is home to nearly three times as many people as the Land of Lincoln.
Rauner spent nearly $36 per vote in 2014, according to the Chicago Tribune, a figure that will likely grow this time around – with nearly 13 months left until voters head to the polls.