How easy or hard of a re-election campaign Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has this cycle will be determined by who his opponent is after the June 28 primary. The race has turned into a battle of billionaire versus billionaire, but only one of them is on the ballot.
National Democrats — including heavy early spending by the billionaire incumbent himself – have spent millions to push the weaker (and now surging) candidate, state Sen. Darren Bailey, over the finish line rather than the more moderate and cash-flush Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
Irvin, who was the first African-American mayor to lead Illinois’s second-largest city and served in the first Gulf War and worked as a prosecutor, crucially has the backing of GOP megadonor Ken Griffin. The billionaire hedge fund founder has given $50 million to Irvin’s campaign, according to the latest tally from the Chicago Tribune. Griffin also helped bankroll Republican Bruce Rauner’s successful 2014 ouster of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn; Irvin has hired much of Rauner’s team and is trying to replicate that upset in another favorable Republican
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