Ken Griffin, the state’s wealthiest person and prime mover behind Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s biggest policy defeat to date, has made his decision: He will back Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s bid to defeat Pritzker’s re-election, beginning with a $20 million campaign contribution Monday.

Griffin’s move firmly establishes Irvin as the fundraising frontrunner in a crowded Republican primary field. It also renews a political rivalry between Pritzker and Griffin that some have called “The Battle of the Billionaires.”

“I’m going to get behind Richard Irvin, the mayor of Aurora. He’s an incredible leader, has a strong track record as mayor of Aurora, and really epitomizes the American dream. I believe he has the talent, the drive and the caring that we need to turn Illinois around,” Griffin said in an interview.

In selecting Irvin, Griffin first interviewed what he described as “a handful” of Republican candidates for governor. He said there was no polling data to speak of, since as a group they have little name recognition. Background research was done.

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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.