J.B. Pritzker vs. Bruce Rauner: The Battle for Governor

Mackenzie Stewart, News Editor

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The election for governor of Illinois occurs every four years, and if you are eighteen, you will be able to vote in this crucial race. Here’s what you need to know about this upcoming election.

The incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is running for reelection, and he is opposed by the Democratic Party’s nomination J.B. Pritzker. There are two third party candidates also running: Sam McCann as the Conservative Party candidate and Grayson, or “Kash,” Jackson as the Libertarian Party candidate.

With the media coverage and criticisms facing the two mainstream party candidates, this race for the top state seat could come very close, making every vote count.

“Everybody should vote, but especially young people because they tend to under vote,” Michele Bonadies, government and law teacher, said. “They should vote because we’re a representative democracy; we’re not a direct democracy, so we should vote so that you have a voice in whose representing your interests.”

While there are many issues facing the candidates in the upcoming election, the economy might be one of the bigger issues because the budget crisis and the flow of students leaving Illinois have garnered much attention.

“The financial state of Illinois… is a huge, huge issue that needs to be resolved or addressed…. People tend to vote their pocketbooks, but I think that’s a big hot-button issue– the need for a solvent budget,” Bonadies said.

 

Background of the candidates:

Pritzker is a husband and a father of two kids. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts/Science from Duke University and with a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Northwestern University. He is also an entrepreneur as he founded the small business 1871, which “is responsible for creating 7,000 new jobs in Illinois, and…ranked among the top ten tech hubs in the world,” as stated on his website. JB is also a Blackhawks fan. His net worth, according to Forbes, is $3.2 billion.

Rauner is a husband and father of six kids. He

graduated from Dartmouth College with top honors, and he has an M.B.A. from Harvard University. He helped the startup investment firm Golder, Thoma, Cressey, which later turned into GTCR.  It has been considered “one of the most successful and respected businesses in Illinois,” as stated on his website. Bruce is a Cubs fan. His net worth has not been publically made clear, but it’s estimated to be in the several hundred millions.

 

Taxes and the economy:

Governor Rauner is fighting for lower income taxes, and, during his term as governor, he vetoed a 32 percent income tax hike proposed by congress led by Speaker Mike Madigan (D).

As explained on Rauner’s website, “I’m fighting for lasting property tax relief by freezing property taxes and giving local communities more flexibility to control their costs and lower taxes.”

However, during Rauner’s term as governor, property taxes did increase after a two-year budget crisis as Rauner refused to pass congress’s proposed unbalanced budget.

Pritzker is also fighting for lower property taxes and is focused on minority inclusion in small business ownership.

One major plan Pritzker has, as stated on his website, is to “Restore and expand small business development centers across the state.”

Pritzker is focused on job creation with these centers.

 

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-ernor, he vetoed a 32 percent income tax hike proposed by congress led by Speaker Mike Madigan (D).

As explained on Rauner’s website, “I’m fighting for lasting property tax relief by freezing property taxes and giving local communities more flexibility to control their costs and lower taxes.”

However, during Rauner’s term as governor, property taxes did increase after a two-year budget crisis as Rauner refused to pass congress’s proposed unbalanced budget.

Pritzker is also fighting for lower property taxes and is focused on minority inclusion in small business ownership.

One major plan Pritzker has, as stated on his website, is to “Restore and expand small business development centers across the state.”

Pritzker is focused on job creation with these centers.

Also, stated under “JB’s Plan for Economic Inclusion,” Pritzker would like to “expand opportunities for minority entrepreneurs and small business owners across the state.”

If Pritzker wins, one concern some voters have regarding the tax situation is what the tax plan will look like under a unified Democratic government, meaning the Democratic Party controls both congress and the governor.

 

Controversy:

This election has uncovered and resurfaced numerous criticisms, scandals and controversies involving both Rauner and Pritzker.

To start, both mainstream candidates have addressed that they have offshore accounts in the Bahamas, but both candidates’ field managers were not able to supply any additional information.

The biggest issue facing Pritzker is the possible tax evasion scandal when Pritzker removed his toilets from his house, allegedly to avoid paying taxes. After an investigation, Pritzker’s toilet dilemma was discovered. He has now agreed to pay $330,000 back in taxes.

“Everything was very much legal. Was it right? I don’t know,” Joshua Fredrickson, the Field Organizer working out of the Barrington Office for the Pritzker campaign, said.

One of the biggest criticisms Rauner has faced is the two-year budget crisis that occurred during his term. While congress passed a budget, Governor Rauner refused to sign it because it was unbalanced, but some have cited his refusal as an unwillingness to compromise.

“The budget that was initially proposed to him was continuing in the same path that we’ve been going for years and years now of an unbalanced budget where we spend more than we really bring in, and it would bring no changes to Illinois. And Rauner, in 2014, ran on that platform of making sure we finally get a more balanced budget, so he’s stood his ground and tried to fight for what he believed in,” Chris Linares, the Grayslake Field Office Manager for the Rauner campaign, said.

Another scandal Pritzker has faced occurred in comments exchanged between Pritzker and former Governor Rod Blagojevich.

As the Chicago Tribune reported on Feb. 6, 2018, in “New Pritzker-Blagojevich audio from FBI wiretaps sheds light on race issue in governor contest,” Pritzker discussed with Blagojevich who would fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Obama.

Pritzker suggested Jesse White to Blagojevich, partly because it “covers you on the African-American thing.”

When asked about the wiretap scandal, the field manager from the Pritzker campaign was not able to elaborate on the situation, but he did address that if the claim carried merit, the Rauner campaign would be advertising the situation more than they already have.

Rauner has not been without his criticism from the press either. In 2017, the leading conservative publication The National Review named Rauner the “Worst Republican Governor in America” because of his failures to pass several items he had promised in his campaign.

“It seemed as if the publication was very frustrated with the lack of progress Rauner had in office which, again, ties back into him being strong-armed multiple times,” Linares said. “And Rauner came in as somebody who wanted to shake up Springfield and was not in the political sphere, so people had faith in him that he would come in swinging his stick and making sure that he could make the changes, and, unfortunately, Illinois doesn’t work that way, at least not yet.”

 

Jobs:

Pritzker’s plan to improve jobs mainly revolves around building up infrastructure.

“My plan will invest in infrastructure so we can make Illinois a place where people want to do business again. It will provide capital and support for small businesses, the number one job creators in our state,” Pritzker’s campaign website said.

He is also focused on creating new businesses, investing in higher education, improving Illinois’ agricultural economy and supporting manufacturing.

“As governor, I will put education front and center in the work to create jobs in Illinois. I know investments in our state universities and community colleges will grow our economy statewide,” Pritzker’s website said about building jobs through a focus on education.

Pritzker’s website also attacks Rauner for the budget crisis and a failure to address infrastructure problems.

During Rauner’s past term, he has focused on bringing thousands of jobs to Illinois, and he has worked toward making Illinois competitive.

“And with the Future Energy Jobs Act, we are now leading the Midwest in clean energy jobs and will continue to create thousands of new green energy jobs throughout the state in addition to saving thousands of jobs across Illinois,” Rauner’s campaign website states.

Rauner also plans to lower the cost of business and reform the current and longstanding problems facing the state.

“I am working hard to make Illinois more competitive and to help create more good-paying jobs. That means working to lower the cost of doing business by reforming Illinois’ expensive workers compensation system, reining in out-of-control lawsuit abuse, and freezing property taxes,” Rauner’s website says about how he is going to help improve the state’s economic situation.

 

The positives:

Both candidates’ field managers were asked to identify the best trait about their candidate, and they were asked to sell the public on the man they believe should be governor.

“Probably [Pritzker’s] history of support of Illinois citizens and just people in general. He wears his wealth well…. He sincerely is a person apart from his money…. [Pritzker was] at every pride parade, women’s marches, stuff like that…when he wasn’t running for governor. I think that’s my favorite part about him; he sincerely cares,” Fredrickson said.

Fredrickson also noted Pritzker’s commitment to the middle class.

“Pritzker is somebody who, although he is a billionaire, he is somebody that stands up for the middle class… when it didn’t benefit him. The biggest reason I support him is because of the social issues he is willing to stand up and fight for,” Fredrickson said.

Fredrickson acknowledged that Rauner “is socially liberal compared to other conservatives,” but added, “he doesn’t stand up…. When the LGBT community is being attacked…, he’s not saying anything.”

He said he trusts Pritzker “based off of his successful life of creating this small business incubator. Creating small businesses shows the way he works and shows that he has his head in the right place. He has the smarts and also cares.”

The Grayslake field manager for Rauner touched on the policy aspects about Rauner.

“Personally, his fiscal plans– I’m someone who, as I said about Lake County, tends to care not so much about social issues all the time, but mostly about fiscal issues, and I love that he’s trying to get jobs back into the state, lower our tax burden and make sure our residents don’t leave anymore,” Linares said.

Linares offered a more concise reason as to why voters should lend their support to Rauner.

He said, “Well, [if] you want a candidate who cares about how Illinois spends your money and makes sure that people stay in this state, lowers your taxes and our kids stay here for school, Rauner is your guy.”

 

What is your opinion? Please fill out this very short survey, and the results will be published in the next issue.

https://goo.gl/forms/KaSEKPoslLih4Gas2

 

Please read both candidates’ websites for more information on a wider variety of issues:

www.jbpritzker.com

www.brucerauner.com

 

You can also check out the third party candidates’ websites:

https://www.kash2018.com/

https://mccannforillinois.com/

 

Editor’s Note: MacKenzie Stewart, the editor who wrote this article, has a paid internship with the Bruce Rauner campaign, but, for her, the purpose of this article is to educate potential voters and students about both candidates impartially with no bias toward either candidate.

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J.B. Pritzker vs. Bruce Rauner: The Battle for Governor