Illinois Democrats have locked horns with Governor Bruce Rauner at every turn over the last three years.
Constant budget fights only reinforced the fact that Illinois is the most dysfunctional state in the union.
Now, it’s election year and Democrats are determined to reclaim the governor’s mansion.
We’ve shown you the men trying to do it several times over the past year.
We’re now actually down to six Democrats on the ballot: J.B. Pritzker, Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman and Robert Marshall.
When you check the polling, it comes down to three in contention.
The poll done at the end of January by We Ask America puts Pritzker in front with 30 percent, Biss next at 17 percent and Kennedy third with 12 percent support.
There are plenty of undecided.
Pritzker has essentially been a big political donor until now. Never held elected office.
He appeared on 4 The Record this week and we asked him how he can be considered qualified for the most important job in the state without real government experience.
“Well actually, I ran a state agency called the Illinois Human Rights Commission,” Pritzker said. “I’ve also been very engaged in public policy. For more than 20 years, I’ve been a national advocate on behalf of early childhood education, particularly the most at-risk kids in the country. So there are thousands of kids here in Illinois that get preschool and child care because of the work that I’ve done on a policy level. Same thing with school breakfast. There are hundreds of thousands of kids who get school breakfast now because I helped to expand President Obama’s program to provide school breakfast in low-income school districts. Those are just some examples.”
So why should Illinois elect another billionaire as governor?
“Well you probably are saying that because we have a failed governor today who’s a Republican and has created crisis after crisis in Bruce Rauner,” Pritzker said. “He just genuinely doesn’t understand how government works. He doesn’t understand the difference between business and government. I do, because I’ve had so much experience getting big things done.”
Pritzker added that he believes the government “absolutely should not” be run like a business.
Pritzker’s policies call for investing in infrastructure, expanding high speed internet across the state, spending more on early childhood education, higher education, childcare assistance, adding teachers and more.
All this takes money.
Where would it come from under a Governor Pritzker in a state that has such a large deficit?
“We have serious financial challenges in this state and you need a governor who’s gonna focus on that because we’ve gotta to overcome the challenge of creating jobs in the state and we’ve gotta expand educational opportunities and make universal health care a reality,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker supports changing the Illinois income tax structure from the current flat tax to a progressive tax like exists in Iowa.
A lot of Democrats do.
But it requires a constitutional amendment to make that happen, so is that realistic?
“We’re going to make it a reality because we can,” Pritzker said. “We’ve got to elect people who believe in a progressive income tax. It’s good for middle-income taxpayers, middle-income voters. … Even Republicans were advocating in the Grand Bargain for raising the regressive flat income tax in the State of Illinois.”
Watch the full interview in the video above.
Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.