Cash Mounting As Candidates Vie for Top Offices With Primaries a Year Away
Secretary of State race draws most attention
Most candidates vying for statewide office in the 2022 campaign cycle are actively filling their war chests to get an early lead on late entries to the race. Democrats, who hold all the constitutional offices in Illinois, have been raking in donations this year and have an outsized advantage on Republicans challenges in terms of cash in hand. Hesitancy to jump into the fray thus far may be due to a primary that was pushed back to July 28, 2022, the built-in advantage of incumbency or the current lack of finality for legislative and congressional district boundaries in a reapportionment year.
The most expensive race will undoubtedly be the gubernatorial as billionaires and millionaires place their markers, but the most watched contest is for the patronage and contract-rich Secretary of State’s office. Center for Illinois Politics Campaign Cash Tool
Secretary of State:
After 24 years as Secretary of State, Jesse White has decided to step down and open the seat for the next generation. Though the secretary of state's duties mainly revolve around drivers licensing and registration for lobbyists and corporations, the office is viewed as a stepping stone to higher office due to its public visibility and over 4,000 employees on staff. White has yet to endorse any of the candidates, but four are vying for the position.
Former treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) has taken an early lead on the fundraising and endorsements. Though the most recent campaign filings show he has over $3 million cash on hand. The largest donations have come from the Giannoulias family, the Laborers’ International, the Teamsters, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Over seven unions, including the SEIU State Council and Teamsters, have endorsed Giannoulias, as has U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D), who has close ties with organized labor and leading progressives.
Though he currently has the advantage financially, Giannoulias has notably stumbled in past campaigns. A failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010 against then-incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R) was weighed down by Giannoulias' time as a senior loan officer at Broadway Bank, which was owned by his family, between 2002 and 2006. Published reports that the bank made loans to real estate developers with connections to individuals with alleged ties to organized crime and who were later convicted of fraud and money laundering did take their toll on the campaign, even though Giannoulias denied personal involvement or approval of any of the controversial loans.
Anna Valencia (D), clerk for the city of Chicago, has recently been more visible throughout the state and is picking up steam and a few key endorsements. Her cash on hand reached nearly $600,000. Valencia is considered a major competitor to Giannoulias and was boosted by endorsements from incumbent Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) on July 8 and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D) on February 19.
Valencia has been picking up contributions from the UNITE HERE hotel and restaurant employees union and major IUPAT Painters union locals. Valencia moved up to second place in fundraising when State Sen. Michael Hastings (D) dropped out of the race in June; Hastings had raised over $670,000 from a range of labor, real estate and trade organizations.
Alderman Pat Dowell (D) has fared better in fundraising than her colleague on the Chicago City Council who is also competing for the office, Illinois Alderman David Moore. Dowell has raked in $434,881, over 80 percent of which has come in since March 31. Dowell has received donations from Chicago-based businesses and realtors. Alderman David Moore has yet to raise any funds for his secretary of state bid, though he continues to raise funds and spend from his committee for alderman and has $64,219 cash on hand.
Illinois State Rep. Dan Brady (R) of Bloomington has been mulling a run on the Republican side. Brady has served as a member of the House since 2001 and has said he is exploring the opportunity as a chance for Republicans to take over a statewide office seat. Former Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R) is also rumored to be considering a run for either governor or secretary of state, though he hasn't indicated which he will pursue yet. The top GOP leader resigned from his senate position in December following an effort to oust him and has kept his campaign committee active.
The gubernatorial campaign has started off with potential for another record-breaking season.
In the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, JB Pritzker (D), heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, broke campaign funding records with a whopping $171.5 million of his own money. Pritzker beat incumbent Bruce Rauner, a millionaire himself with backing from billionaire Ken Griffin, by a margin of over 30 percent. To aid Republicans in rebounding from this setback, Griffin helped bankroll the 2020 campaigns to kill the “Fair Tax” ballot initiative and defeat former incumbent Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride (D).
Pritzker formally announced his campaign for governor on July 19, but started off the 2022 election cycle much earlier by loading his campaign war chest with $35 million of his own money on March 12, 2021. Pritzker’s donation came days shy of triggering a rule that would have lifted contribution limits of all candidates in the race.
Not long after Pritzker’s donation, businessman and gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine (R), donated $250,390.04 to his own campaign, triggering the removal of campaign finance limits for all candidates in the race and ensuring the 2022 campaign cycle will be a battle of the big-spenders. Since then, donations to Rabine’s campaign have brought its total up to $670,716 as of July 21. Money has mainly flowed into his campaign from various individuals and businesses in the real estate, construction and finance sectors. Rabine, a dedicated supporter and fundraiser for former president Donald Trump, sits on the advisory board of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization on college campuses.
State Sen. Darren Bailey (R) is closing in on Rabine’s fundraising totals. Bailey, a third-generation farmer from downstate Xenia, had approximately $561,165 cash on hand with the largest donations coming from himself, family and the fossil fuel, trucking and agricultural sectors.
Former Illinois State Senator Paul Schimpf (R) in February announced he would resign from the state senate and run for governor. By early July he had built up $197,960 in his campaign war chest. Donations have mainly come in from individuals and small businesses.
Finally, political newcomers Christopher Roper (R), a veteran and former law enforcement officer, and Beverly Miles (D), a nurse and resident of Chicago’s West Side, have also announced they will be running for the highest office in Illinois, though neither has made significant steps in fundraising.
The attorney general's race has been relatively quiet, with no challengers appearing for incumbent Kwame Raoul (D). Raoul's campaign committee retained $192,625 cash. Republicans have yet to field a candidate of their own for this race.
Susana Mendoza (D) is running for her third term as Illinois Comptroller and has built up $490,349 cash on hand in her campaign fund following her unsuccessful run for Chicago mayor. The largest donations to the fund have come from the Laborers’ International Union of North America PAC and its Chicago branch, as well as the SEIU HealthCare PAC. Mendoza is currently the only candidate running in the comptroller's race.
Mike Frerichs (D) has not yet formally announced he will seek a third term as Illinois's State Treasurer but is expected to do so. Though his campaign has $1.7 million in cash on hand, much of this was saved from his 2018 campaign. Since March 31, Frerichs has raised $329,800, which has largely come from teachers’ unions.
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