Saturday, October 7, 2017

Can big bucks buy J.B. human persona?

J.B. Pritzker is the millionaire would-be politico who’s showing a willingness to spend his own money to try to run for governor in next year’s election cycle.
Gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker's late mother, Sue, is featured in his latest campaign advertising spot now airing on television. Does this make him appear more human? Photograph by Gregory Tejeda
Democratic opponent Daniel Biss (whose campaign appeal seems limited to anyone who lives in or near the suburb of Evanston, where he lives) is trying to use Pritzker’s wealth against him – he issued the statement that pointed out Pritzker’s campaign is spending some $120,000 per day – which he says is more than the annual income of he and his wife.

YET JUST WHAT could Pritzker be spending so much money on?

Perhaps it is those campaign ads that began appearing on television this week – the one where Pritzker doesn’t talk about the state of the state or how sleazy his gubernatorial challengers (or incumbent Bruce Rauner) are. Instead, we get to hear a first-hand story of how wonderful his mother, Sue, was.

He talks about how after his father, Donald, died when J.B. was merely a 7-year-old, his mother struggled to support he and his siblings. Her efforts were made all the more difficult by the fact that she was an alcoholic.
PRITZKER: Most empathetic?

She could easily have been overwhelmed by becoming a widow. Instead, she managed to raise all her children to adulthood where they succeeded in life, and J.B. says he gained “a kind of empathy and understanding” about people who struggle.

HE CLAIMS THAT empathy will be put to use if he becomes governor. He’ll sympathize with all of us.

Which usually I’d be inclined to dismiss as a whole lot of schmaltz.

But this particular statement is something off-beat and usual. I’ve never really seen a political campaign try to put forth such a statement. Usually, something personal would be more likely to have Pritzker allies (although not J.B. himself) telling us what a despicable excuse for a human being Rauner is.
BISS: J.B. nothing but money?

Turn this into a battle of the two candidates likely to try to self-fund their way to the Executive Mansion in Springfield following the Nov. 6, 2018 elections.

BUT IT IS because this statement is so much like something just about anyone would say about their mother. I could easily come up with a similar accounting of how strong my late mother became following her divorce from my father – all because she wanted me and my brother to not suffer due to the split some four decades ago.

In fact, my quarrel would be to say that my mother was just as special as his mother. Something I’m sure just about every voter would argue.

That touch of humanity, and not just another political geek looking to ram his ideological leanings down all of our throats, is what Pritzker seems to want us to think – and what he’s trying to buy with the dollars that the Biss campaign would like us to think are merely evidence of another rich guy trying to buy himself a government office so as to appease his ego.

Of course, that could also be evidence that the Biss campaign’s momentum is withering away on account of the smudge on his political image after having to pick a new lieutenant governor running mate.
RAUNER: Not just a GOP version of J.B.?

HE’S NOT RAISING money for his own campaigning at the same rate he was early on. Although in this particular campaign, the J.B. Pritzker campaign was always going to be the one that grossly outspent everybody else on the Democratic side.

With incumbent Rauner’s personal wealth and the roughly $50 million he claims he’ll come up with to support his own re-election and that of sympathetic legislators for the General Assembly likely to dwarf his own spending.

Which is why Illinois House Speaker and state Democratic Chairman Michael Madigan has long been a Pritzker backer – his money could compete with the Rauner money.

Which also is why the Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association (Democrats in the rural parts of Illinois) are likely to do their own endorsement of Pritzker – even though the Republicans claim the association is “taking orders from Madigan” and nothing more. Maybe the GOP can’t think of something nice to say about their own candidate?


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