Billionaire Democrat J. B. Pritzker has defeated billionaire Republican incumbent Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in his bid for re-election. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday soundly defeated first-term Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who conceded his re-election bid less than an hour after the polls closed, giving Democrats near total control of Illinois’ state government.
“Voting is an act of optimism that the levers of our Democracy still work,” Pritzker told supporters moments after declaring victory. “You embody that optimism. You light the beacon fire on the hill of history that signals from one generation to another that these are the things that we stand and fight for.”
In conceding defeat, Rauner called for unity after a grueling, bitter race in which the two candidates accused each other of criminal activity. They broke national campaign funding records by tapping their personal fortunes for hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This is a time for us to come together,” Rauner said. “This is a time for us to unite.” The governor called Pritzker before speaking to the crowd at his campaign party and promised a smooth transition, Rauner’s campaign said.
I sincerely wish the governor-elect the best. I am not optimistic. Earlier I characterized the contest as of a governor who couldn’t do anything and a challenger who wouldn’t do anything. I see little reason to change that view.
The reality is that Illinois is completely under the control of Mike Madigan and John Cullerton, Illinois House and Senate leaders. There was never any prospect for compromise between them and Rauner. There will be no need for compromise between them and Gov. Pritzker.
Governor-elect Pritzker based his campaign on two planks: enacting a graduated state income tax in Illinois and an ambitious series of spending initiatives include increases in infrastructure, health care, and education spending, an intriguing choice in a state that can’t pay its bills as it is. Illinois’s constitution mandates a flat state income tax. In the entire course of the campaign not a single reporter asked Mr. Pritzker for a list of Illinois legislators that would commit to amending the constitution. I don’t believe there are any and one of the governor-elect’s signature proposals will die on the vine. Illinois already has the highest sales tax in the nation and one of the highest property taxes. The only place to look for new revenue is the income tax.
I predict that by the end of Gov. Pritzker’s first term another half million Illinoisans will have left Illinois for other states, taking their tax dollars with them. About half of those will be black Chicagoans, sick of violence, rising taxes, and decreasing city services.