News Local/State

JB Pritzker Picks Up Endorsement From Treasurer Frerichs In Governor’s Race

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker campaigns at the University of Illinois with State Treasurer Mike Frerichs  and running mate & St. Rep. Juliana Stratton

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker campaigns at the University of Illinois with State Treasurer Mike Frerichs (left) and running mate & St. Rep. Juliana Stratton (right). Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs is endorsing venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker for governor. The two went to Frerichs’ home turf of Champaign-Urbana to make the announcement on Wednesday.

Frerichs lives in Champaign, grew up in nearby Gifford, and represented the area as a state senator before becoming treasurer.

At a news conference at the University of Illinois Urbana campus, Frerichs praised Pritzker for his commitment to education — something he says he finds lacking in Governor Bruce Rauner.

“We have seen Governor Rauner let this state decay through indifference or callousness and it is time for a change,” said Frerichs. “And that change is the ticket of JB Pritkzer and Julianna Stratton.”

Pritzker says he wants to work with Democrats up and down the ticket to make Illinois an attractive place for people and businesses.

“When I’m governor, we’re going to help small businesses and startup businesses, by providing capitol and technical assistance and mentorship,” said Pritzker, “because those are the things that small and startup businesses need to succeed.”

Frerichs’ endorsement of Pritzker comes as another Champaign-Urbana Democrat, State Representative Carol Ammons, is giving her support to rival candidate, State Senator Daniel Biss.

During the news conference, Pritzker confirmed his plans to release his income tax returns by December 4th. That’s the last day that candidates in Illinois can turn in their  petitions to get on the March primary ballot.

“Actually, we’ve said all along that we would,” said Pritzker. “In fact we will release them at the time of the petition filing, which is somewhere before December 4th.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss, and Illinois Republicans have criticized Pritzker for not releasing his tax returns.  A video released this week by the Biss campaign shows Pritzker saying the returns have been delayed because they are “complex.” and compares him to Republican President Donald Trump, who gave similar reasons for not releasing his own returns.

But at the University of Illinois, Pritzker downplayed any complexity in releasing his returns.

“No, we’re glad to put it together and make sure everybody has it,” said Pritzker. “I’ve said always that we would.”

The official response from Illinois Republicans to Pritzker’s announcement on his tax returns was one of skepticism.

Illinois GOP spokesman Aaron DeGroot said in a news release that saying he would release his tax returns at the filing deadline was another way of saying “soon.”

“Pritzker is trying to hide,” said DeGroot, “but Illinois voters will remain skeptical in the face of his deception.”

DeGroot noted a Chicago Tribune report that Pritzker’s sister, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, was discovered to be keeping assets in offshore investments, according to records found in the Paradise Papers, a collection of leaked documents about offshore tax havens.

The 52-year-old Pritzker is an investor and philanthropist, who is heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune. Forbes Magazine has estimated his personal net worth at $3.4 billion, compared to Governor Bruce Rauner’s statements that his assets are close to $1 billion (as reported by the Associated Press).

Pritzker's running mate, State Rep. Juliana Stratton, also appeared at the news conference. She stayed on in Champaign-Urbana Wednesday to officially open Pritzker's new campaign office in Champaign. The Pritzker campaign says the Champaign office is their 14th in the state.