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.
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 journalism and policy advocacy.
Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.