This progressive Democrat says he appealed to Trump voters

J.B. Pritzker is a progressive Democrat and heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune who made a shift from building ...

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 7:25 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 7:25 PM

J.B. Pritzker is a progressive Democrat and heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune who made a shift from building a tech startup and running private equity for the Pritzker Group, but what helped him beat out incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner in the Illinois governor's race, he said, were Trump voters.

"I ran a campaign that was about kitchen table issues, and I think that's why I won a lot of Trump voters, frankly. They are people who have not gotten a break. They need a raise. They need to send their kid to college and be able to afford it, and they need to be able to afford health care or have it made available to them. And nobody's done that for them," he told David Axelrod on The Axe Files, a podcast from CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

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J.B. Pritzker

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Here are three things to learn from the podcast.

1. He had to grow up fast

After his father's death, Pritzker said, his mother made drinking "a predominant part of her life."

"There were times when I had to call 911 because my mother (had) slipped and fallen because she'd been drunk in the bathroom," he said.

Pritzker's mother made it a point to be transparent with her children about the implications of alcoholism so they could better understand her behavior.

"She handed us each a book about alcoholism and she said, 'I want you to know what alcoholism is. You know that I love you more than anything in the world.' "

2. He set a record for spending in his race for state office

Pritzer spent just under $171 million of his own money in his race for governor. That's $76 million more than Rauner spent.

Pritzker says he doesn't think a system that sometimes requires personal wealth in order to win is fair.

"There were people who were brave enough to run who didn't have enough resources to take on that kind of mountain. And I give them credit for stepping up to the plate. I ran against them in the primary and they're good people."

As a part of his platform as governor, Pritzker said he'll focus on campaign finance revisions, calling the disclosure of campaign funds "hugely important."

He'll also focus on election security.

"We also have to secure the ballot box and secure our elections, make people know that there's no hacking going on. And then the other part is we've got to expand voting rights."

3. He wants to work across the aisle

"I've called and spoken with every single one of our Republican representatives here in the state of Illinois because I think it's really important to have us represented well about what we need for the state."

Pritzker, a self-proclaimed "progressive Democrat," just met with President Donald Trump, despite their ideological differences, alongside other governors.

"I'm going to continue to bite my lip and go fight for the people of Illinois to get as much as we can, whether it's a Republican administration or a Republican Senate, which is what we have to deal with."

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