The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Gubernatorial Candidate J.B. Pritzker Lands Key Endorsement From Labor Union

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 6, 2017 9:54PM

J.B. Pritzker / Facebook

Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker landed a key endorsement on Tuesday, as the powerful Illinois AFL-CIO union federation put their backing behind the venture capitalist.

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO," Pritzker said in a statement.

The coveted endorsement comes hot on the heels of a particularly rocky stretch for the candidate: late last month it was revealed that Pritzker had discussed political favors with now-disgraced Rod Blagojevich in 2008, and earlier in May he was in hot water over $230,000 property tax reduction for his Gold Coast mansion.

The announcement from the federation—which represents some 900,000 workers—came far earlier than usual in the election cycle, a good nine months ahead of the Democratic primaries. AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan said "an early endorsement is necessary in order to achieve our top priority—defeating Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose anti-worker proposals and refusal to compromise on a budget are destroying Illinois," according to the Tribune.

The camp of Chris Kennedy, another Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, criticized the move, saying in a statement, "It's about a Springfield establishment insider who cut deals and circumvented the normal endorsement process."

Since Pritzker has deep personal pockets and can self-finance a campaign, the union federation would now be able to use its funds toward other races, it appears. Progressive-identified candidates for governor such as state Sen. Daniel Biss and Ald. Ameya Pawar (Ward 47) have hinted that a billionaire-vs.-millionaire race in the general election would only further problematize the state's politics.

Still, Pawar sounded a conciliatory note on Tuesday. "I have always been, and will always be a steadfast supporter of organized labor and collective bargaining rights," he said in a statement. "If elected governor, I will bring that same commitment to supporting labor and working families across Illinois. Endorsements or non-endorsements won’t change that.”