Karis: Prominent venture capitalist, founder of 1871 and outspoken Democrat, J.B. Pritzker just announced he’s running for governor of Illinois.
Jim: In announcement earlier this afternoon Pritzker announced he’s throwing his hat in the ring to be a Democratic candidate in the Illinois gubernatorial race November 2018. His platform will call for a $15 minimum wage, expansion of early childhood education and a shift in the state’s tax system, according to Politico’s Illinois Playbook.
A little on his tech and business background: He founded 1871, the city’s most visible tech and innovation hub, as well as Pritzker Group Venture Capital, one of Chicago’s most active investment firms. He’s also heir to his family’s Hyatt Hotel fortune and Forbes estimates his wealth at $3.4B (which means he could self-fund the campaign).
His political background, however, is a bit spotty. In 1998 he unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for congress to Jan Schakowsky, according to the Tribune, and in 2008 he was a national co-chair of Hillary Clinton‘s failed presidential campaign against Barack Obama. Pritzker was once again a vocal supporter of Clinton in the past election, and has remained an outspoken critic of President Trump on social media.
Karis: On one hand, Pritzker has played a prominent role in boosting Chicago’s business community and its fast-growing tech sector. If he makes it to Springfield, it’s likely that tech and innovation would stay at the top of his agenda. Hopefully he’d also work to bring some of Chicago’s prosperity to the rest of the state, which hasn’t fared as well post-recession.
But November’s presidential election pretty much blew up any preconceived notions of a successful politician. Pritzker’s billions and elite name likely won’t win him many populist votes, or support from anyone looking for a leader that’s outside the establishment.
But the last election has also galvanized the progressive left, many of whom are connected to tech and startups, and are eager to push an economic agenda inspired by this experience (see: Genevieve Thiers‘ Rise Movement).
Regardless, with this announcement Chicago’s tech scene just took a huge step into a much larger arena. Stay tuned.