Jun 30, 2022 - Politics

Pritzker denies Illinois is getting redder

Politician at a rally

Gov. J.B. Pritzker attends an abortion rights rally. Photo: Natasha Moustache/Getty Images

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is annoyed by predictions that the state is going deep red after Tuesday's primaries.

Why it matters: Two Trump-backed conservatives emerged victorious — Darren Bailey, who will face Pritzker in November, and Rep. Mary Miller — but the governor sees the rightward shift as a strictly "Republican phenomenon."

  • "That's not where Illinois is and that's not where Illinois ever has been," Pritzker tells Axios.
  • "We're a pro-choice state. We're the home state of Barack Obama, the Land of Lincoln, we're the first state to ratify the end of slavery and the beginning of women's suffrage. That's where we are in Illinois and that's the direction that I'm taking the state."

By the numbers: The Chicago metro area, which makes up more than 70% of the state's population, still skews strongly blue.

Yes, but: Only about one in five registered voters in the city cast a primary ballot, the lowest turnout since 2014.

  • Preliminary estimates on statewide turnout were similar.

The intrigue: While Pritzker's camp was widely seen as angling for a matchup with the conservative Bailey rather than the moderate Richard Irvin, the governor disagrees.

  • "If you're asking me whether I think there's some advantage, all I know is it's dangerous to get that person anywhere near the governor's office."

State of play: Pritzker's billionaire nemesis Ken Griffin is moving his hedge fund's headquarters to Miami, but the governor says he's not celebrating.

  • "I guess one of the [GOP's] major donors has just decided that, after losing five elections last night, he's gonna leave the state. I don't like to see him leave the state and I never like to see jobs leave the state .... He's been talking about it for years, so it's not a surprise."

What's next: Over the next few months, Pritzker says, he'll emphasize his record on balancing the budget, guiding the pandemic recovery and creating jobs.

  • He's also focused on the upcoming special session on abortion rights to "make sure we're protecting the capacity to provide those reproductive choices."

The dish: Pritzker recently responded to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's pizza smack talk with some excellent places to get Illinois-style tavern, Quad City and deep-dish pizza. So we asked where he'd go for hot dogs.

  • The governor declined naming one stand to avoid "making another one mad."
  • But he did reveal that he likes "mustard, onions and sometimes relish — but no ketchup."
  • "It's probably obvious that I've had a few hot dogs," he says.

What we're watching: We've also reached out to Bailey's camp with a request to talk about similar issues.


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