When Governor JB Pritzker announced his victory over defeated Republican Darren Bailey for a second term as Governor of Illinois on Tuesday night, he also introduced himself as a possible candidate for the White House in 2024 if President Joe Biden decides not to serve a second term.

In an unfortunate speech in his att*cks on a republic with contours that stretched far beyond the parish boundaries of Illinois, the billionaire progressive Democrat and heir to the Hyatt Hotel called himself a “fighter” ready to fight former Republican President Donald Trump and Trump’s allies in the years beyond.

“Here we are, after two years of cleaning up the remains of Donald Trump’s presidency, ready to see this man announce his return to domestic politics in a matter of days,” Pritzker said.

“You know why? Because the politicians of the GOP, with the exception of a few souls, are too cowardly, too polite to support the nation’s best interests, because they fear they will be called offensive nicknames by a whiny bully,” Pritzker said.

The scene in the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis hotel on the South Loop in Chicago in front of hundreds of fans is not the same as the platform of the National Democratic Convention, as it was in Boston in 2004 when a young Illinois state senator delivered a speech that garnered Barack Obama as president four years later. Pritzker’s oratory skills also lack the Obama dimension.

But there was no doubt that Pritzker’s speech was aimed at a domestic audience as Trump wants to announce a presidential candidacy as early as next week, and Democrats express concerns about the 79-year-old Democrat president’s candidacy.

The intent of Pritzker’s speech was clear when he did not mention the name of his opponent, Bailey, a Trump-backed Xenia state senator who put forward a regional and religion-based grassroots candidacy that did little to extend the GOP beyond its base.

But Pritzker has mentioned Trump twice and also twice used the term “MAGA”, which the former Republican president created his signature under the slogan “Make America Great Again.” He also att*cked Trump’s hold over the GOP, which encourages “misery spelunkers (who) feed on the dark fears that humans feed on in troubled times.”

“To the false patriots and their helpers: you don’t love the United States if you don’t want to defend it from a man who could destroy it. Donald Trump is the modern embodiment of the tyranny our founders feared most, ”said Pritzker. “So don’t lecture us about norms or typical political practices. With a party that nominates and supports anti-Semites, racists and anti-immigrant fanatics, concessions and complacency do not work. “

“There is no nice or easy way to say this, but until the Republican Party is ready to remove the extremists among them, we have to do it for them at the ballot box,” he said.

Pritzker has tried to avoid talking about a personal interest in the president, saying he intends to serve a second four-year term and supports Biden if the president runs for re-election.

But it was Pritzker’s personal fortune that helped fund Bailey as his favorite opponent in the general election, with over $ 30 million in advertising that he and the Society of Democratic Governors he helped finance enabled Pritzker to embark on journeys that encouraged presidential speculation rather than to intense speculation. all over Illinois.

In June, when Bailey was explicitly nominated for the GOP, Pritzker performed an East Coast swing that included stops in Massachusetts, Maine, and traditional New Hampshire home state to support Democratic governor candidates.

The following month, he visited the pivotal swing state of Florida, where he delivered a keynote speech at the state’s Democratic Party’s Blue Leadership Gala, where he att*cked Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who won re-election on Tuesday, and looks at the GOP’s main offering. could potentially challenge Trump.

“DeSantis is just a masked Trump. It tries to portray its underlying racism, homophobia and misogyny as a more sane form of Trump’s Republicanism, ”Pritzker told Florida Democrats.

Pritzker also att*cked Ken Griffin and Richard Uihlein, two billionaire sponsors who backed GOP candidates for Illinois governor, on Tuesday, describing both men as “the country’s two biggest MAGA Republican billionaires.” Griffin, founder of Citadel’s investment, backed the failing lead candidate of Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin with $ 50 million, then moved his business to Miami and now strongly supports DeSantis. Uihlein, founder of Uline’s supply and office packaging division, gave Bailey and his political committee $ 54 million to oppose Pritzker.

Griffin and Uihlein “and their teams of political frauds threw lies and insinuations, and you showed them Illinois was a state that advocates working families and rejects their selfish agenda,” Pritzker told supporters.

Citing his staunch support for the right to ab*rtion, Pritzker warned that “anyone who thinks they can enter the state and try to force a right-wing MAGA war on a woman’s body will never get a single whole of Illinois.”

Still, it was clear that Pritzker focused his remarks on the national landscape.

“When the railings of our democracy, the load-bearing walls of government institutions, the freedoms for which the country’s most famous son died, are att*cked, well, then winning is not a luxury but a necessity,” he said, noting Abraham Lincoln.

After the speech, outgoing state Democrat Mike Zalewski of Riverside said that Pritzker national goal “mirrors an ongoing campaign” in which candidates from across the state “are somewhat tied to national sentiment, where it is a threat to democracy, inflation and reproductive health. “.

“As a result, you find yourself in a position to talk about these issues, and when you win, you want to make sure everyone knows the reason is because Illinois is on the right side of these issues,” he said.

This is likely to trigger more speculation about Pritzker’s potential presidential ambitions, Zalewski admitted, “but at the end of the day it is the kind of campaign that the governor has been running and has been successful in.”

The White House also recorded Pritzker victory. The governor of Illinois on Tuesday night was one of the few leading Democrats to have received congratulatory phone calls from Biden.

rap30@aol.com

dpetrella@chicagotribune.com

jgorner@chicagotribune.com

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