Illinois gubernatorial candidates already spending big money

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Big money is already being spent in the race for Illinois governor, and candidates have so far raised more money than any other governor's race in the country, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Illinois gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker released this week his first commercial called "Think Big," but with two billionaires vying for the job, candidates are already spending big money in the race.

The election is more than a year away, but Pritzker and incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner are already out with ads.

It's tough to compete with candidates who can dip into their own pockets.

"When you are talking about raising $50 million or what could end up being hundreds millions of dollars, the money has to go somewhere and where that money goes is constant advertising," said Sarah Brune, of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Pritzker is the first Democratic candidate to release a television ad, and it wasn't a small one but a pricey 60-second spot.

The Democratic field includes businessman Chris Kennedy, state Sen. Daniel Biss, Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar, businessman Alex Paterakis and Madison County School Superintendent Bob Daiber.

Wayne Steger, a DePaul University political science professor, said building name recognition is not the only purpose for Pritzker's ad.

"He is signaling to political elites that he is in this for real and donating to other candidates isn't going to do anything because he can outspend anybody," Steger said.

The race could be the most expensive governor's race in the country. Rauner and Pritzker have raised millions, including dipping into their own pockets.

"When you see two candidates putting millions of dollars into their own campaign over a year out, that is intimidating," Brune said.

But candidate Paterakis, a 29-year-old small business owner, is not intimidated.

"I knew going into this I wasn't going into this to compete with big money," Paterakis said.

Paterakis was the first Democrat to declare his candidacy for governor with only $5,000 in his campaign fund. He last in money raised.

"If you really believe in what our campaign is doing, then volunteer your time, because that is more valuable than cash," Paterakis said.
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