How Many Homes Do the Candidates for Illinois Governor Own?

In his first race four years ago, the revelation that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner owned nine homes across the country became a talking point throughout the election.

Now, state Sen. Daniel Biss has made "middle class" values one of his selling points, centering once again on the question of whether the ultra-wealthy can relate to the constituents they hope to serve.

That leads many to wonder - where do this year's candidates for Illinois governor live and what do they own?

Biss is the only candidate who has featured video of his home in a campaign ad, showcasing his family's modest duplex in Evanston. He also owns a small home in Urbana, Illinois, that his wife bought before they were married and they now rent, he said.

"I just think it's time for a middle class governor," Biss said Wednesday. "I think it's time for a governor like me who pays more than 10 percent of their income in property taxes, struggles with the question of how their child will have access to health care and tries to figure out how to save for college because those are the challenges that almost all Illinois families experience on a weekly basis."

Competing for the Democratic nomination, Biss has made many references - some more subtle than others - to the wealth of one of his opponents, billionaire Hyatt heir J.B. Pritzker.

"I own three homes that I spend time in and then I own other investment properties in addition," Pritzker said Wednesday.

Of those, Pritzker's Astor Street mansion in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood has received considerable attention in the past, not just for its size but also on the topic of property taxes.

Pritzker owns the mansion next door, where the toilets were removed and it was deemed uninhabitable, resulting in a major reduction in property taxes.

Just north of the Illinois border, Pritzker also owns an expansive horse farm in Racine, Wisconsin, with several buildings on its grounds. And not far from that is the Pritzker vacation home, a mansion in Lake Geneva.

NBC 5 also obtained photos of another home, believed to be Pritzker's, under construction in an exclusive area of the Bahamas with ocean views. The Pritzker campaign would only say that he has a home in the Bahamas, but would not confirm that the photos are of his property.

For his part, Pritzker fired back at Biss, saying he "likes to portray himself as if he would be a middle class governor but he has not stood up for the middle class."

"Look, I'm running a campaign that's about the issues important to working families across the state of Illinois, that's what we're focused on here," Pritzker said.

"Making sure that we're focused on the kitchen table issues: making tuition lower cost for students, making sure that we're increasing wages across the state of Illinois, creating jobs here and then lowering the cost of healthcare," he continued.

Chris Kennedy, battling both Biss and Pritzker for the Democratic nomination, said he owns two homes - one in Kenilworth and another in Massachusetts.

"My wife Sheila and I have a house here in Illinois, near her parents and her brothers and sisters, and then we have a house up in Cape Cod near the Kennedy compound, close to all of my brothers and sisters," Kennedy said, adding with a laugh, "The house here is a lot calmer than the one there."

"I think if you can't remember how many houses you have, you probably are not qualified to be the governor of the state of Illinois," Kennedy continued, in a lightly-veiled shot at Pritzker.

But Kennedy didn't go so far as to agree with Biss.

"I don't think Americans believe in class warfare and I think for Sen. Biss to introduce that notion that somehow success in life disqualifies people from higher office, I think that's wrong-headed and un-American," he said.

And on the Republican side, while Rauner's nine properties - including his Winnetka mansion, two condos in Chicago, two Montana ranches, a Wyoming farm, a Utah condo, a New York penthouse and a beachfront Florida home - made headlines in 2014, his primary opponent state Rep. Jeanne Ives, owns just one residence in suburban Wheaton.

Regardless of how many homes the candidates may own, the one that wins election - not just the March primary, but the general in November - will have one more place to live: the Springfield governor's mansion.

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