Tax suspicion notwithstanding, billionaire JB Pritzker wins Illinois Democratic primary
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jay Robert Pritzker on Tuesday, March 20, defeated five candidates in the fray to bag the Democratic primary for the governor's post in the state of Illinois in the US. The 53-year-old is likely to face Republican governor of the state Bruce Rauner in November this year. Rauner is one of the most unpopular governors in the US with an approval rate even less than President Donald Trump in Illinois where the president lost decisively in the 2016 elections.
The Democrats, who have only 16 governors at the moment, have found an opportunity to increase its tally in Illinois by snatching it from Rauner who is also facing a stiff competition in his own party.
In the primary, Pritzker defeated Illinois Senator Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy, a businessman and the son of late Robert F Kennedy after spending a whopping $70 million from his own pocket on the campaign.
Pritzker, however, had no qualms about his wealth. He told the media that the race was not about money but values of social and economic justice. He said the voters wanted someone who would fight on their behalf.
Pritzker's tax activity not above suspicion
However, the man's noble talks did not shift the focus from his wealth. Recent media investigations found Pritzker and his brother Anthony owned a number of offshore shell companies where they parked their money and Pritzker did not reveal much about his personal income tax returns.
This has raised suspicion that the candidate was avoiding taxes even as he promoted progressive income tax to help overcome Illinois's financial hardships. His opponents in the primary even termed his "fraud" and "liar" but Pritzker remained indifferent to the criticism.
Pritzker vows to cure Illinois financial ill health
Pritzker ran this campaign with the promise to restore Illinois's financial health. Last year, the state managed to pass its first budget in two years, overcoming the veto obstacle put up by Rauner.
Illinois currently has unpaid bills amounting to over $15 billion along with a pension debt of over a quarter trillion dollars - the highest in the US. Pritzker has promoted the progressive income tax, whereby those who earn more, will get taxed more, as a remedy to cure Illinois's financial illness.