As candidates boost their campaigns with just more than 75 days until election day, recent campaign finance filings show the source of contributions and just how the money is being spent — whether for campaign events, advertising, or quite literally for gas expenditures.
In the financial battle, Democrats are well in front in the governor, secretary of state, attorney general and comptroller races in terms of available funds as of the latest quarterly campaign finance report released in July.
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The Democrats are carried in many ways by the personal wealth of Gov. JB Pritzker, whose campaign committee had more than $27 million in expenditures in the April 1 through June 30 quarter. More than $2.5 million was transferred to Democrats throughout the state, including three $500,000 contributions to the Democratic Party of Illinois.
Spending in this quarter has already amassed $5.5 million, as JB For Governor has contributed $1.5 million to DPI, $1 million to Senate Democrats, and $3 million to the Democrats for the Illinois House as reported by Capitol Fax.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, comparatively, had $9.2 million in expenditures for the prior quarter. Seventeen contributions to fellow Republicans also came from the Bailey for Illinois campaign for a total of $17,128.
Bailey, who has labeled Pritzker as “out of touch” because of the Democratic governor’s inherited wealth, so far, has not received support from individual big money donors. During the primary, mega-donor Ken Griffin contributed $50 million to Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, but, since his move to Florida, has yet to contribute to the GOP gubernatorial ticket.
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An endorsement from former President Donald Trump was helpful for Bailey, who won the June 28 primary with 55% of the vote over the other five candidates on the ballot. Yet, also playing a role was the more than $8 million the Republican received from Richard Uihlein – heir to the Schlitz beer fortune and co-founder of Uline with his wife, Elizabeth.
Like Griffin, Uihlein has yet to send funds directly to the Bailey campaign since the primary.
Pritzker, who is mostly self-funding his campaign, and had $60.8 million on hand as of the latest quarterly report. Bailey had $363,918 available at the end of the quarter.
Races for the Illinois General Assembly have not attracted the big money like the top-of-the-ballot candidates, but there were notable donations.
State Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, closed out the quarter with the most amount of available funds of the local legislators and has already started receiving funds in this quarter. Finishing the quarter with $467,172 in available funds, nearly $400,000 more than Republican opponent Rep. Sandy Hamilton of Springfield, the Friends of Doris Turner campaign saw major donations including $52,400 from IBEW Illinois PAC and two contributions from the Illinois Laborers’ Legislative Committee totaling $33,900.
Illinois Senate Democrat Fund has provided several contributions to Friends of Doris Turner – most notably a $325,750 donation reported on Aug. 12.
The Senate Republican Victory Fund provided three donations last month to the Sandy for Senate campaign totaling more than $5,550. Last quarter, Hamilton received several transfers of $1,500 from Dent-IL PAC, Farmers Employee and Agent Illinois PAC, and IFAPAC IL. The campaign ended the quarter with $80,252.
Analysis of the post-primary quarterly campaign disclosures by local legislators also revealed some shared donors despite party affiliation and major funding sources.
A common donor among Democrats and Republicans was Springfield-based Ameren Illinois PAC. Ameren, an electricity and natural gas provider covering 75% of the state according to its website, distributed $41,000 in transfers last quarter primarily among GOP candidates.
While its largest donation was the $15,000 it sent to the House Republican majority, Democrats Turner and Senate President Don Harmon also were beneficiaries. State Sen. Sally Turner, R-Beason, and state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, also received contributions from Ameren.
In response to why it supports Democrat and Republican candidates, a spokesperson with Ameren Illinois said it backs candidates who share views with the company.
“Specifically, we support candidates who share our goal of providing safe, reliable, cost-efficient energy delivery,” the spokesperson said in a released statement. “Such candidates will best represent the interests of our customers, our co-workers, the communities we serve and the state.”
Sen. Doris Turner received $2,000 from Ameren PAC, while Butler received two contributions totaling $3,500 and Sen. Sally Turner obtained $1,000. In this quarter, state Rep. CD Davidsmeyer received $3,000 from the group according to a July 22 campaign disclosure.
So far, Butler is running unopposed in Illinois House District 95. His largest contribution was $5,000 from Comcast Financial Agency Corp. He had $139,386 in available funds at the end of the quarter. Sen. Sally Turner had $38,185 available and the $1,500 she received from the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois PAC was her largest contribution.
The $211,024 Davidsmeyer had on hand at the end of the quarter was the second-most of local candidates with Airsman-Hires Funeral Homes’ $2,000 being the highest donation. State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, trailed narrowly with $203,021 but held a significant margin over GOP opponent Lisa Smith in the House District 96 race.
Also unopposed in the November election, state Sen. Steve McClure, of Springfield, had $12,377 in available funds which was the lowest of all local candidates but he also had the most contributions.
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The Republican senator received multiple contributions exceeding $30,000, where the majority of transferred funds came from the ChicagoLand Operators Joint Labor Management PAC. The Countryside-based committee had nearly $1 million in expenditures last quarter spanning both sides of the political aisle, including $150,000 to Harmon.
The four contributions to McClure totaled $97,000, highlighted by a $50,000 contribution in late June. With funds coming from the Realtor Political Action Committee ($45,000), and the Illinois Political Action Committee for Education ($50,000), transfers coming into the Friends of Steve McClure campaign were more than $250,000 greater than the prior filing quarter.
Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340, [email protected], twitter.com/@pkeckreporter