Billionaire Ken Griffin donates $20 million to Irvin's governor campaign
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin's GOP gubernatorial campaign is $20 million richer Monday courtesy of a seismic donation from Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin.
"I appreciate Mr. Griffin's support and the thousands of other donors who have joined our campaign in the first few weeks," Irvin said in a statement.
"I look forward to gaining the backing of even more Illinoisans throughout the state who want to be a part of this movement to stop out of control crime, skyrocketing taxes and wasteful spending, heavy handed government and corruption, and I will be a governor who puts people first and tackles these issues head on."
The $20 million makes Irvin the leader in funding among the five Republicans running in the June 28 primary but he's not up to par yet with Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who in January loaned his campaign $90 million.
"If anything this motivates us more," said Palatine Republican Aaron Del Mar, who is running as lieutenant governor on a ticket with governor candidate Gary Rabine of McHenry.
"It's a sad day in Illinois when the donor class anoints the front runner for all the residents of Illinois. This is what's wrong with politics in Illinois."
Other rivals for the GOP nomination are state Sen. Darren Bailey of Louisville, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Monroe County and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg.
"I firmly believe Richard Irvin has the character and leadership needed to again make Illinois a place where people can feel safe to live, raise a family and pursue their dreams," said Griffin, CEO of the hedge fund Citadel.
"J.B. Pritzker puts politics first and refuses to address the crime that is tearing apart our state, cities and families," he added in a statement.
The wealthy Chicagoan's support of a mainstream Republican candidate this election cycle was expected, and "I suspect this is not the last check Griffin will write," noted Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
The last time Griffin cut a $20 million check was in July 2017 to support Gov. Bruce Rauner's reelection campaign only to watch Pritzker defeat the incumbent,
However, Griffin came back in 2020, donating over $46 million this time in a successful effort to kill Pritzker's proposed income tax revamp referendum.
"Ken Griffin would conveniently like us all to forget he bankrolled the very governor that decimated the social services that prevent violence, caused our colleges and universities to nearly lose accreditation, and devastated our state's finances in previously unseen ways," said Pritzker campaign communications director Natalie Edelstein,
Asked if his policies would be influenced by aid from Griffin, Irvin told the Daily Herald Feb. 2 that "after having grown up in public housing with a teenage mother raising me, I am nobody's pushover. I'm offended when my opponents suggest that I'm a puppet. I'm my own man and I've always been my own man."