Pritzker chooses Rep. Juliana Stratton as 2018 running mate

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker has selected state Rep. Juliana Stratton of Chicago to be his running mate in the 2018 election.

The billionaire businessman from Chicago said Thursday that Stratton has "taken on" Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and will fight for working and middle-class families statewide as his lieutenant governor.

With enthusiastic supporters cheering him on, Pritzker took the next step in his battle to become Illinois' next governor. He has been relentless in his attacks on Rauner, and by adding Stratton to the ticket, signaled that will now continue two-fold.

"The damage has been done by Bruce Rauner, the problem is Bruce Rauner, the solution, is J.B. Pritzker," said Stratton.

Stratton is a protege of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and won her hotly Illinois House seat in 2016 with the help of House Speaker Mike Madigan and the endorsement of President Barack Obama.

Republicans released a statement Thursday, saying:

"Juliana Stratton owes her political career to Mike Madigan. Stratton took millions from Madigan-backed groups to win a state house seat and had Mike Madigan's top political operative run her campaign. J.B. Pritzker is making it clear that he will allow the governor's office to be annexed over to Speaker Madigan."

After the rally, ABC7 Political Reporter Craig Wall sat down with both candidates, and asked Stratton what she brings to the race.

"My background is someone who brings people together and listens to Illinoisans from around the state to help determine what are the best solutions to help move this state forward," Stratton said.

Pritzker focused on the political stalemate in Springfield.

"We need somebody who's going to be governor of this state who can actually get things done," Pritzker said.

Wall asked the billionaire venture capitalist about a potential race with Rauner, another near-billionaire, a race that observers say could be the most expensive gubernatorial race in America ever.

"The important thing is that we're going to go out and fight a fight here whatever we need to to take on Bruce Rauner... but it's Bruce Rauner who's created this environment where there's an endless amount of money streaming in from Republicans," he said.

In response to the Republican Party statement, the Pritzker campaign said Stratton owes her career to no one but herself.

Rauner, who opened the State Fair Thursday, steered clear of politics.

Friday, Pritzker and the seven other Democratic candidates for governor will go before the Democratic Party and make their pitch for an endorsement.

Pritzker is among several Democrats looking to unseat Rauner. Others seeking the Democratic nomination are businessman Chris Kennedy and state Sen. Daniel Biss.

Stratton is African-American and the first woman on any Democratic ticket.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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