Venture capitalist and entrepreneur J.B. Pritzker emerged from a packed field of six candidates to win the Illinois Democratic primary for governor. Pritzker will face embattled Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in November.
The race was called around 9:30 pm by the Associated Press. Pritzker defeated two serious candidates — progressive state Sen. Daniel Biss and developer Chris Kennedy (the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s son). But even with a competitive primary, the billionaire ultimately came out on top, after spending nearly $70 million of his own money on the race.
Pritzker has been upfront about his vast wealth. “This race isn’t about money; it’s about values, it’s about the values of social and economic justice and inclusion,” he told Vox. “What voters want is someone who’s going to fight for them.”
But he hasn’t been as upfront about the details surrounding his wealth. A recent Chicago Tribune investigation found Pritzker and his brother Anthony Pritzker own several offshore shell companies and trusts where their money is stored. Those companies, combined with Pritzker’s decision to release nothing but the first two pages of his personal income tax returns, have raised questions of whether the billionaire candidate is avoiding taxes as he advocates for a progressive income tax. (Pritzker told the Tribune the trusts are only for charitable contributions.)
Things got particularly nasty in the last weeks of the Democratic primary, with Pritzker’s competitors openly calling him a “liar” and a “fraud.”
Pritzker shrugged off the attacks in a recent interview.
“It’s a spirited competition in this race, but I think what the voters are looking for are the qualities of someone who can get big things done across the state and someone who’s got real experience creating jobs,” he said.
…..Pritzker’s vision for solving this is by introducing a progressive income tax, in which higher earners get taxed at a higher rate. Illinois currently has a constitutionally mandated flat tax, where residents are all taxed at the same rate, no matter their income. The progressive income tax concept is relatively new in the state, but voters are receptive, Pritzker told Vox.