The dueling tycoons are filling the summer airwaves with an onslaught of ads that are memorable for their meanness and estrangement from the truth — and utterly devoid of solutions to the state’s fiscal mess.

The dueling tycoons? Yes, those two: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker inherited more than a billion dollars, and Rauner’s private equity fortune is close to rounding up to the big “B.”

All this money is leading to record spending in the Illinois gubernatorial campaign. The tally is growing at such a pace that Rauner and Pritzker are threatening the record $280 million spent in California in 2010 in the race for governor by eBay entrepreneur Meg Whitman and Golden State Gov. Jerry Brown. Whitman spent $140 million of her own money and still lost: Take note, J.B.

Roughly half of the Rauner and Pritzker money is going into production of TV and online ads. And judged purely as pieces of rhetoric, they’re getting their money’s worth.

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David Greising

David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative...