J.B. Pritzker re-elected in Illinois governor’s race


Patrick Sloan-Turner

Confetti rains down over a group of supporters at Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s victory party at the Marriott Marquis in Chicago on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The victory party for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s re-election was like a scene from a movie.

After Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton gave their victory speeches, confetti rained down on the crowd like snowflakes during the first snowfall in the city. Glasses were raised, ice clinking in glasses of champagne and cheers echoed throughout the banquet room of the Marriott hotel in celebration. 

The Illinois governor’s race was a rather smooth-sailing election this year. The announcement of Pritzker’s win was around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Following the announcement of Pritzker’s victory, his opponent, Republican candidate Darren Bailey, called Pritzker to congratulate him and concede. 

Pritzker finished with a 54% majority vote, Bailey finished with 43.3%, according to The New York Times.

One of the main campaign themes Pritzker ran on was protecting reproductive rights and a person’s right to choose. For people like Breanne Dickson, a 28-year-old Black woman, supporting Pritzker wasn’t a decision, but more of a necessity.

“His willingness to protect the rights of others — of people that don’t look like him, that don’t have the same issues as him, that don’t have the same problems as him or have the same politics as him — to be able to represent them without any issues is really incredible,” Dickson said. “I personally am grateful that he was governor during the whole Roe v. Wade overturning because it deeply affected my life.”

Gov. JB Pritzker smiles to supporters after declaring victory in the Illinois governor’s race over Republican Darren Bailey at the Chicago Marriott Marquis hotel Tuesday night. (Patrick Sloan-Turner)

Similarly, Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43rd) said his connection to Pritzker has been long-term, so attending the event to support Pritzker was a given. Knudsen worked on Pritzker’s primary campaign in 2018. Knudsen marched in several pride parades for Pritzker, knocked on doors and petitioned for him. Knudsen said he worked hard for Pritzker because he was a politician who actually showed up for LGBTQ+ rights.

“We’ve got to celebrate people who [have] good, strong leadership,” Knudsen said. “I think, more so than just celebrating J.B., we celebrate all the work he does statewide for candidates of all different types of [Democrats].”

Throughout the night, speakers had a message of light coming out of darkness. Stratton made a point of noting the darkness of the current state of the world, both financially and due to the loss of civil rights. But, she made a point of frequently saying “light always finds a way out of the darkness.” 

“Our light shines because with this election victory comes an acknowledgment that our fight for equal rights and racial justice is not over,” Stratton said as she pointed directly to a crowd member. They pointed back to her and yelled out, “C’mon now!” to encourage Stratton to keep speaking. 

“There is still so much work to be done to ensure that Black, Brown, Indigenous and AAPI lives are valued and voices are represented in every space where decisions are being made,” Stratton yelled out to the crowd. “Here in Illinois, we can lead the way. We can light the path. We can make racial equity a reality.”

While Pritzker did not make many attributions to the theme of light and darkness, he did hit home on the need to fight for democracy and rights. Pritzker mentioned his many wins throughout his previous term, noting how he helped “raise the minimum wage to a liveable wage” and even legalized cannabis, to which a crowd member said: “That’s the real winner.”

After addressing the list of accomplishments he and his staff had throughout the previous term, Pritzker said that while there were many wins, the fight to keep people and their rights protected is ongoing. He said he wanted to continue being a “happy warrior spirit” and continue to fight for his constituents.

When I was making the decision to run for a second term as governor of Illinois, I asked myself if I was ready for the fight again,” Pritzker said. “[I asked myself this] because this is a moment requiring a steel spine for the years ahead as our nation’s fundamental ideals are under siege.”

The “steel spine” Pritzker mentioned he has is one of the many reasons people voted to re-elect him. Dickson said his “steel spine” is helpful to the people of Illinois because he doesn’t “buy into the machine.”

But while there are many reasons for people to have a positive view of Pritzker, there is still the question of what is to come from a second term with him as governor. Joe Valliquette, president of DePaul Democrats and senior, said he is interested to see what these next four years will hold and hopes for the continued betterment of Illinois as a result of Pritzker’s leadership.

“I strongly believe Pritzker has been one of the best governors economically for Illinois,” Valliquette said. “I would like to see him continue to sort out our state’s finances considering the basket case they were in as a result of previous administrations. Specifically, the state’s pension crisis has been a disaster for decades, leaving many workers unsure if they will receive the pensions they deserve. To me, it would be a massive success if Pritzker simply continues to consolidate the pensions Illinois workers deserve.”

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton shares a laugh in celebration of her running-mate’s win with a crowd of supporters at the Pritzker campaign’s victory party Tuesday night. (Patrick Sloan-Turner)

Even though there are many successes that were made by Pritzker and his staff during his former four years, there were some things people had criticisms of. 

“I believe Pritzker could have done a better job marketing a lot of the policies he set forth,” Valliquette said. “For example, the elimination of cash bail in Illinois is a good piece of legislation… Many conservative pundits have marketed this law as ‘the purge law,’ making it seem as if murders will be released from jail to go out and harm individuals the day after they get arrested. This is flat out untrue, and I believe Pritzker could have done a better job defending this policy and others like it.”

Despite the evaluations of Pritzker’s past four years in office, many people are looking forward to another four years with him as governor.

In all honesty, I hope to see a continuation of what he has accomplished so far,” Valliquette said. “I believe he has done a good job keeping his campaign promises and I would love to see him continue to do so.”

“He’s just got it together. And I think that’s what we need, that’s what we’ve been lacking,” Dickson said. “He is his own person. He has his own politics. He has his own thoughts. And they’ve been really beneficial to Illinois at times. I’m grateful that he’s in office and that he’s going to be in office for another four years.”

Connect with Kiersten Riedford: @kriedford | [email protected]