CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker kicked his re-election bid into full gear Tuesday. He spoke with ABC7 Political Reporter Craig Wall in a one-on-one interview about his record and why he wants another term.
"You know, when I ran for governor four years ago, I wanted to tackle the big challenges facing our state, and of course, put Springfield back on the side of working families," Pritzker said. "So I'm running for reelection because there's so much more that we can do to help Illinoisans reach their full potential."
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Pritzker touted his first term successes, including raising the minimum wage, expanding health care access, and his rebuild Illinois program.
"My focus is on truly finishing the job of, you know, expanding the on-the-kitchen-table issues that really help people across our state," Pritzker said.
Pritzker formally launched his re-election bid in a three-minute campaign ad where he focused on his handling of the COVID pandemic. He denied that concerns about a surge of cases related to the Delta variant played a role in the timing of his announcement. Pritzker said he made his decision after talking it over with his family. He did not seem the least bit concerned about his potential Republican rivals.
"Look, I think it's a mess over there on the Republican side, they've got to work all of that out amongst each other," Pritzker said. "Their idea of success, of course, is nobody gets vaccinated. We don't worry about what happens to hospitals or to people's health, or to people's livelihood, so I'm not sure what their idea of success is."
Pritzker, who took a shot at President Trump in his campaign ad, shared a warning to the current and potential Republican challengers.
"I think if you know if they're all going to run a pro-Trump line, I think that's a losing effort," Pritzker said.
Republican candidates took their own shots. Gary Rabine said: "The last two and a half years have been a disaster for Illinois."
Darren Bailey added: "We cannot afford another four years of Pritzker's weak leadership and failed, liberal agenda."
And Paul Schimpf said: "(Pritzker) He has failed to stand up to corruption, failed to protect our veterans and families and failed to help overtaxed Illinoisans."
Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy said Pritzker's agenda is helping to increase the Republican ranks.
"They're making it easy by pursuing this radical left agenda, being anti-police, being anti-real education as opposed to political indoctrination," Tracy said.
Pritzker, who pumped $35 million into his campaign back in March, is ready for an ideological battle leading up to next year's election. Republicans concede defeating an incumbent with that much money will be a challenge.
"So, whoever it is that ends up being the Republican nominee, they're all standing in the same place, which is against what's best for working families in Illinois," Pritzker said.
Pritzker suffered one major defeat during his first term, when voters soundly rejected his graduated income tax plan. He said at this point, he has no plans to pursue that again if he's reelected.
And despite other places in the country reinstituting indoor mask mandates, Pritzker said he is not ready to make that move, but is closely monitoring the situation, particularly downstate.