Billionaire contributes $20M to Republican candidate for Illinois governor

Illinois gubernatorial race could be most expensive in US

Sarah Schulte Image
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Billionaire contributes $20M to Republican Aurora mayor's campaign
Billionaire Ken Griffin contributed $20 million to Aurora, IL Mayor Richard Irvin, a Republican hoping to defeat Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- It was all mayoral business for Mayor Richard Irvin Monday as he spent his day on the job at Aurora City Hall.

But, under the mask, the Republican candidate for governor was smiling as he received the expected endorsement and a $20 million campaign contribution from billionaire Ken Griffin.

"This is just a down payment on what we will a very expensive gubernatorial race. This will push him way out in front in terms of other candidates," said ABC7 Chicago Political Analyst Laura Washington.

Irvin was unavailable for an on camera interview, but in statement, he said he appreciates Griffins support. Releasing his own statement, the Citadel Founder wrote, "I firmly believe Richard Irvin has the character and leadership needed to make Illinois a place where people can feel safe to live, raise a family and pursue their dreams."

"Ken Griffin is looking for somebody who agrees with his basic political views and is also potentially electable on the state of Illinois," said Better Government Association President David Greising.

In his only interview on the subject, Griffin sat down with Greising. Griffin told the BGA that Irvin is a centrist who will be fiscally responsible and tough on crime.

But, Irvin's four Republican opponents have been trying to paint him as a Democrat, while Gov. JB Pritzker has said a Griffin-backed opponent will be a repeat of the "Bruce Rauner Days."

In a written statement, the Pritzker campaign said "the wounds left by Bruce Rauner's incompetence are still fresh and Illinoisans see Irvin's candidacy for exactly what it is: another empty suit for Ken Griffin to drag our state backwards."

"His critics are going to say that he is bought and sold by a billionaire," Washington said.

While the race could shape up to be a battle of the billionaires, political experts said Irvin must convince voters he is not just a puppet for Griffin.

"Irvin has to prove himself as a good campaigner all the money in the world won't help him if he is not a good campaigner," Greising said.

If Irvin wins the Republican primary and Griffin's money keeps flowing, the race could end being the most expensive gubernatorial race in the country.