When Governor JB Pritzker claimed victory Tuesday night over defeated Republican Darren Bailey for a second term as governor of Illinois, he also put himself forward as a possible candidate for the White House in 2024 if President Joe Biden chooses not to seek a second term.
In a ruthless speech in his attacks on the contoured GOP that went well beyond Illinois parish boundaries, the progressive Democratic billionaire and Hyatt Hotel heir called himself a “warrior” ready to take on former Republican President Donald Trump. and its allies over the years. ahead.
“Here we are, two years after clearing the rubble of Donald Trump’s presidency, ready to watch this man announce his return to national politics in days,” Pritzker said.
“Do you know why? Because GOP politicians, except for a few souls, are too cowardly, too simpering to support the best interests of the nation because they’re afraid of being called insulting nicknames by a whiny tyrant,” Pritzker said.
The scene inside a ballroom at the Marriott Marquis in Chicago’s South Loop in front of hundreds of supporters is not the same as the platform at a Democratic National Convention, as it was in 2004 in Boston when a young Illinois state senator delivered the commencement address that propelled Barack Obama to the presidency four years later. Nor do Pritzker’s oratorical skills have Obama’s dimension.
But there was no doubt that Pritzker’s speech was aimed at a national audience as Trump plans to announce a presidential candidacy as early as next week and Democrats raise concerns about a second run for the 79-year-old Democratic president.
The intent of Pritzker’s speech was evident when he failed to mention the name of his opponent, Bailey, a Trump-endorsed state senator from Xenia who mounted a regional and religious candidacy that didn’t do much. -something to expand the GOP beyond its base.
But Pritzker mentioned Trump twice, as well as twice using the term “MAGA” which the former Republican president made his signature slogan for “Make America Great Again.” He also decried Trump’s grip on the GOP that encourages “speleologists of misery (who) feed on the dark fears that people harbor in difficult times.”
“To the false patriots and their enablers: you don’t like the United States if you are not ready to defend it against a man who would destroy it. Donald Trump is the modern embodiment of the tyranny our founders feared most,” Pritzker said. “So don’t lecture us on typical political norms or practices. Against a party that names and supports anti-Semites, racists and anti-immigrant fanatics, appeasement and appeasement do not work.
“There’s no nice or easy way to say this, but until the Republican Party is ready to kick the extremists out of their midst, we have to do it for them at the polls,” he said. declared.
Pritzker sought to avoid talking about self-interest in the presidency, saying he intended to serve a second four-year term and backed Biden if the president sought re-election.
But it’s Pritzker’s personal wealth in helping fund Bailey as his favorite general election opponent, with more than $30 million in ads he and the Democratic Governors Association he helped fund, that have allowed Pritzker to embark on trips that encouraged presidential speculation rather than intensely. campaign across Illinois.
In June, with Bailey clearly emerging as the GOP nominee, Pritzker made an East Coast swing that included stops in Massachusetts, Maine and traditional primary primary state New Hampshire to support Democratic gubernatorial candidates. .
The following month, he traveled to the key state of Florida, where he gave the opening address for the state’s Democratic Party Blue Leadership Gala, where he lashed out at Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who won re-election on Tuesday and is considering a GOP primary candidacy that could potentially challenge Trump.
“DeSantis is just Trump with a mask. He’s trying to portray his covert racism, homophobia and misogyny as a more reasonable form of Trump republicanism,” Pritzker told Democrats in Florida.
On Tuesday, Pritzker also attacked Ken Griffin and Richard Uihlein, two billionaire backers who have backed GOP candidates for governor of Illinois, describing the two men as “two of the biggest MAGA Republican billionaires in the country.” Griffin, the founder of Citadel Investments, backed failed lead candidate Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin with $50 million, then moved himself and his company to Miami and is now a strong supporter of DeSantis. Uihlein, founder of Uline office supplies and packaging, gave Bailey and a Bailey-aligned political action committee $54 million to oppose Pritzker.
Griffin and Uihlein “with their teams of political crooks, they spewed lies and innuendo, and you showed them that Illinois is a state that stands up for working families and rejects their selfish agenda,” Pritzker told his supporters.
Citing his steadfast support for abortion rights, Pritzker warned that “anyone who thinks they can walk into this state and try to force a right-wing MAGA war on a woman’s body, you’ll never get an inch of it.” Illinois”.
Yet it was clear that Pritzker was focusing on the national landscape in his remarks.
“When the guardrails of our democracy, the load-bearing walls of government institutions, the freedoms that this state’s most famous son died to protect are attacked, well, winning is not a luxury but a necessity,” he said, noting Abraham Lincoln.
After the speech, incumbent Democratic state Rep. Mike Zalewski of Riverside said Pritzker’s national focus “reflects the ongoing campaign right now” where statewide candidates “are to some extent beholden to a national mood, where it is the threat of democracy, inflation and reproductive health.
“As a result, you find yourself in the position of having to talk about these issues, and when you win over them, you want to make sure everyone knows that the reason is that Illinois is on the right side of these issues,” did he declare. .
This will likely lead to more speculation about Pritzker’s potential presidential ambitions, Zalewski acknowledged, “but at the end of the day, that’s the kind of campaign the governor ran and he succeeded.”
The White House also took note of Pritzker’s victory. The Illinois governor on Tuesday night was among several prominent Democrats who received congratulatory calls from Biden.