Why are Illinois Democrats banking on a billionaire in 2018?

Shouldn't they focus more on his policies and political chops than his bank balance?

J.B. Pritzker.
(Image credit: Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune/TNS/Alamy Live News)

Even as they gleefully look ahead to the 2018 midterms, Democrats are still dealing with their 2014 election disaster. Case in point: A Republican named Bruce Rauner fluked his way into the Illinois governor's seat, beating the embattled incumbent Democrat, Pat Quinn, by four points. It was a shocking result in a state Barack Obama carried by 17 points in 2012. If you also guessed that Rauner was a multimillionaire who basically bought the office with a gigantic pile of his own dough, you get a free Cubs ticket.

Since taking office, Rauner has, in a literal way that might be difficult to believe unless you actually live here, done almost nothing. Despite lucking his way into office in a deep-blue state, the governor conducted a pointless two-year standoff with the state legislature, forcing Illinois to operate without a budget and worsening the state's already dire financial situation by racking up more unpaid bills and forcing agencies to downgrade the state's credit. The situation has proved calamitous for all kinds of institutions, from state colleges and universities to the provision of mental health services and other services for the needy.

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David Faris

David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He is a frequent contributor to Informed Comment, and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indy Week.