Multibillionaire Pritzker takes 2nd oath as Illinois gov

Jan 8, 2023, 8:08 PM | Updated: Jan 9, 2023, 3:33 pm
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his inaugural address during ceremonies Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, ...

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his inaugural address during ceremonies Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — J.B. Pritzker, the multibillionaire whose actions over the past year suggest he may be eyeing a run for president, was sworn in Monday as Illinois governor for the second time, an occasion the Democrat used to issue bold proposals for universal preschool and free college tuition.

Catapulting off the financial successes of his first term — including the conversion of mounds of state debt into a $3.7 billion surplus — he declared, “It’s time for Illinois to lead.” He called his plans “as ambitious and bold as our people are, thinking not only about the next four years, but about the next 40.”

“I propose we go all-in for our children and make preschool available to every family throughout the state,” Pritzker said. “It’s also our obligation to make college more affordable by removing financial barriers. … Let’s focus on making tuition free for every working-class family.”

He did not elaborate on the proposals, which also include child care options that would allow parents to work or go to school.

Pritzker, who turns 58 this month, is the first Illinois governor to start a second four-year term since 2007, when Democrat Rod Blagojevich took the oath. Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office in 2009 and later went to federal prison for political corruption. No governor has served two full terms since Jim Edgar left Springfield in 1999.

During his reelection campaign, Pritzker leaned on his record of whittling down government debt, credit-rating agency upgrades and bolstering the state’s “rainy day” fund. He defeated Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey with 55% of the vote.

Bailey was one who took notice of Pritzker’s possible look beyond the Land of Lincoln, beseeching the governor in two televised debates to join him in signing a pledge to serve a full term if elected. He was reacting to Pritzker’s summertime trip to the early presidential primary state of New Hampshire and his raising millions of dollars for Democrats nationwide. Pritzker has said he has no plans to run and supports President Joe Biden for reelection.

But in his Election Day victory speech, Pritzker appealed to a broad constituency, barely mentioning Illinois while indirectly lambasting former GOP President Donald Trump, who will seek a second term in 2024. The prairie state governor criticized Republicans for failing to “treat the disease” and letting it fester into “insurrectionists tearing down the doors of the U.S. Capitol.”

Pritzker revived that sermon in his inaugural speech, warning against “a rising tide of hate.” He postulated, “Old evils will always find new haters to bring them back to life. Yesterday’s Father Coughlin becomes today’s Tucker Carlson.” He was comparing the Fox News commentator to the Rev. Charles Coughlin, whose wildly popular 1930s radio commentary was laced with antisemitism, embraced some policies of Nazi Germany and derided President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

“Their message is amplified by elected officials or political grifters who look to harness the tremendous power of hate for their own ambition,” Pritzker said. “They pledge allegiance to our nation with one hand and then usher in the means of its destruction with the other.”

Pritzker, an equity investor and philanthropist whose family founded the Hyatt Hotel chain, is the nations 310th richest person, with a net worth of $3.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

In 2018, he was swept into office largely on voter dissatisfaction with then-GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, whom they blamed for a two-year budget stalemate with Legislative Democrats that stalled state services and flooded account books with red ink.

Pritzker has overseen paying down a mountain of debt, including $17 billion in overdue bills to vendors at one point. He steered the state through a rocky bout with the COVID-19 pandemic, signed laws to eventually eliminate carbon-generating power production and increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2025. And to the delight of Democrats, he stood fast against restricting access to abortion and called Monday for constitutional protection. This prompted the advocacy group Illinois Right to Life to decree that abortion violates the constitution’s due process clause.

As in his first term, there seems little in his way. Republicans’ hopes of winning a partisan majority on the state Supreme Court in November’s election fizzled, with Democrats increasing their majority to 5-2. In the General Assembly, there seems no limit to the extent of Democratic control.

After Wednesday’s inauguration of members of the General Assembly, Democrats control two-thirds of all possible seats. The 78 Democrats in the House is a record since the chamber’s size was scaled back in 1983 — and as a percentage of all seats, virtually equals the number they won with President Lyndon Johnson’s landslide in 1964. Although they lost one seat in the Senate, the party has controlled at least 40 of the upper chamber’s 59 posts since Pritzker arrived in town.

Only one statewide officer inaugurated Monday is new to the job. Alexi Giannoulias succeeds Jesse White as secretary of state. White served six terms — half of his 48 years as an elected official. Giannoulias was state treasurer from 2007-2011.

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton joins Pritzker for a second term, as does Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Treasurer Michael Frerichs took the oath for a third term and Susana Mendoza begins her second full term as comptroller after she won a 2016 special election to replace the late Judy Baar Topinka.


Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Puyallup man accused in substation vandalism is released from custody

A federal judge issued the order for Matthew Greenwood, 32, after renewed efforts by his attorney to get Greenwood into a drug-treatment facility.
20 hours ago
FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at t...
Associated Press

Democrats in Washington state choose Conrad as new leader

The Washington State Democratic Party has chosen Shasti Conrad, the former leader of King County Democrats, as its new chair.
20 hours ago
Hinman Glacier...
Associated Press

Washington’s Hinman Glacier gone after thousands of years

The largest glacier between the high peaks of Mount Rainier and Glacier Peak has melted away after a long battle with global warming.
20 hours ago
Pierce County substation...
Associated Press

Man accused in holiday substation vandalism released from custody

A man charged with vandalizing electrical substations over the holidays to cover a burglary was released from federal custody.
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-UCLA lecturer accused of threats ruled mentally unfit

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles accused of threatening students and staff was found mentally unfit to stand trial last week by a federal judge in Denver. U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore wrote in a Jan. 27 court filing that lawyers for Matthew Harris filed […]
20 hours ago
This photo provided by Peter Phung shows Phung, left, and Ming Wei Ma at the American Chinese Sprin...
Associated Press

Ballroom shooting victims planned for night of fun, dancing

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Those killed by a gunman who opened fire at a Los Angeles-area dance hall are being remembered by friends and family for the zest for life that brought them out that night to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Eleven people were killed when a gunman opened fire on Saturday night at […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Multibillionaire Pritzker takes 2nd oath as Illinois gov