Pritzker working to shed Blagojevich baggage

4 The Record

J.B. Pritzker touts a progressive liberal agenda in his bid for Illinois governor.

His extreme wealth would make him a formidable foe to fellow billionaire — incumbent Bruce Rauner.

It sets the stage for probably the most expensive campaign in Illinois history… and plenty of negative ads.

Pritzker joined us for a conversation on this week’s 4 The Record. 

The Republicans have already started by keying in on his relationship with former Governor Rod Blagojevich and this recorded conversation they had.

I brought up J.B. Pritzker’s relationship with Rod Blagojevich in the second part of our interview.

A conversation Pritzker had with Blagojevich in 2008 that was recorded by the FBI in its investigation of him has come up in this campaign.

The investigation indicated Pritzker had expressed interest in becoming state treasurer before a conversation about putting his sister in the position surfaced.

Let’s be clear, the FBI found no wrongdoing on your part.

Pritzker also recently apologized for comments about African-Americans in the conversation with Blagojevich.

So is his relationship with Blagojevich a liability to his campaign given that Republicans are already using it against him?

Pritzker thinks it shows that Rauner is already looking ahead.

“We’ve got this unusual situation of the Republican incumbent governor is coming after a Democrat in a Democratic primary,” Pritzker said. “Why do you think that is? Because he knows he can’t beat me in the general election, so he’s going to try to beat me in our own Democratic primary. It’s not working. It’s clearly not working.”

One thing this shows is that wealth like Pritzker’s provides influence the rest of us don’t have.

“I was advocating for Secretary of State Jesse White to take Barack Obama’s place in the United States Senate. I think he’s a statesman and he could have been a great United States senator. Parts of that conversation, I got wrong. When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong and take responsibility for it.”

But is the influence of wealth a good thing?

“I think what’s really important is the values of the candidate,” Pritzker said. “What is it that they stand for? What is it that they’ve demonstrated during the course of their lives about social and economic justice? About equality and inclusion?”

Anything involving Blagojevich reminds everyone about the history of corruption in the governor’s office.

There was George Ryan before him and the list goes on from there.

This state is crying for someone completely above board.

Pritzker talked about why people in Illinois should have confidence in him considering the interactions he had with Blagojevich.

“I have been completely above board,” Pritzker said. “In fact, I believe that we need to root out corruption in government.”

This has been a bitterly contested primary and we still have a little more than three weeks to go.

Both Pritzker and Chris Kennedy criticized each other for pursuing property tax breaks.

Pritzker had the value of his mansion in Chicago reassessed in a move that saved $230,000.

Most people think a billionaire can afford $230,000, but Pritzker explained that it was a one-time situation and that he doesn’t think it hurt his message of trying to look out for the middle class and expecting the wealthy to bear a larger tax burden.

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.


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