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By Bob Skolnik
Exactly 10 weeks before Election Day, J.B. Pritzker took his campaign for governor to Brookfield on Aug. 28.
Pritzker spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of well in excess of 100 people who jammed into the Brookfield Ale House for the event organized by the Lyons Township Democratic Organization, the Brookfield Democratic Organization, and Indivisible Brookfield.
It was Pritzker's second appearance in this area this summer. He also marched in the Riverside Fourth of July parade.
Pritzker gave fiery stump speech that lasted a little more than 15 minutes to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters before plunging into the crowd to shake hands and pose for photos.
Pritzker said that incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner is the biggest obstacle to progress in Illinois, and he emphasized health care, education and jobs.
He did not mention how he would pay for any of his proposals or his support for a graduated income tax, which would require passing an amendment to the state's constitution. Rauner has charged that Pritzker would raise taxes for most Illinoisans a charge the Pritzker campaign denies.
Pritzker, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, is an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune and the wealthiest candidate to ever run for governor in Illinois. Rauner also is enormously wealthy and the two are largely self-funding their respective campaigns. The race is one of the most expensive gubernatorial races in United States history.
As of Aug. 14 Pritzker, had personally donated a little over $126 million of the nearly $128 million his political committee has, raised according to the Illinois Sunshine website maintained by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform which uses data from the Illinois Board of Elections.
Rauner has given $63.3 million to his campaign since he was elected governor in 2014.
In his speech, Pritzker vowed to create a state run "public option" health insurance program, boost spending on education, and promote jobs and business development.
He accused Rauner of cutting aid to higher education in Illinois and said Rauner wanted to gut public universities.
"He wants to consolidate the universities and shut things down, and he wants to fire people out of our universities," Pritzker said.
Pritzker vowed to increase spending for education and to support vocational training.
"We need jobs in this state," Pritzker said. "We need to make sure that our kids are getting educated, whether it's vocational training in high school, community college or four-year universities."
Pritzker, who is the founder of the 1871 technology and small business incubator in Chicago, spent the most time talking about promoting small business.
"We need to start a small-business loan fund in this state," Pritzker said. "And we need technical assistance and mentorship to help people start and grow those businesses. We want a thousand flowers to bloom. All those big businesses, they started as small businesses."
He accused Rauner of badmouthing the state and said that, if elected governor, he would promote the state.
"I'm going to be your best chief marketing officer of this state, I promise you," Pritzker said.
He charged that Rauner has eliminated small business development centers throughout the state.
"We ought to be investing in small businesses," Pritzker said. "That should be the lifeblood of the future and we should be the ones who make it happen. But we have a governor today who hasn't done that. In fact, he closed most of the small business development centers in the state and got rid of a lot of the small business development officers."