J.B. Pritzker Files Exploratory Committee to Run for Illinois Governor in 2018

Chicago billionaire J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that he filed to create an exploratory committee to run for Illinois governor in 2018. 

"As I’ve traveled across Illinois I’ve listened to people express their deep concerns about the direction of our state. It is clear that having a Governor who’s unwilling to address our state’s challenges is having a real impact on people’s lives," Pritzker said in a statement.

"Today, I will take the next step in this process by filing an exploratory committee," the statement continued. "I look forward to continuing my conversations with people across Illinois who are currently being forced to pay the price of failed leadership from Governor Rauner."

Pritzker filed with the State Board of Elections to establish the "JB for Governor Exploratory Committee," a spokeswoman said, and will contribute $200,000 to cover the committee's day-to-day operations. 

Pritzker previously announced he was considering a run on Feb. 8, shortly after fellow Chicago Democrat Chris Kennedy declared his candidacy in the race. Kennedy was the second high-profile Democrat to throw his hat in the ring after Ald. Amaya Pawar declared his candidacy on Jan. 3. 

Last year, Forbes listed Pritzker as the 190th richest person in the U.S., with an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion. His family is one of the wealthiest in the nation, perhaps most famous for owning the Hyatt hotel chain. 

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.

In 1998, Pritzker 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, and his sister, Penny Pritzker, served as the U.S. Commerce Secretary during President Barack Obama's second term in the White House.

Lee Rosenberg, Pritzker's current chief of staff at The Pritzker Group, will serve as the committee's chair and treasurer. The primary election will be held March 20, 2018. 

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