The 2018 race for governor in Illinois was unique in the annuals of the state and nation. For the first time ever it featured two mega-rich candidates vying for a job that pays $177,412 per year. Between the candidates, Bruce Rauner, the incumbent Republican, and the challenger, J. B. Pritzker, the two campaign committees spent a combined total of $251.7 million dollars on the race and support for other allied candidates, making it the most expensive governor’s race in Illinois history. This race came close to surpassing the national record of Governor Jerry Brown vs. Meg Whitman in California in 2010 who spent between them, $280 million in a state which is three times larger than Illinois. A very large proportion of the total on both sides was provided by contributions from the candidates themselves (Madhani, November 2, 2018; Miller, January 16, 2019, 1; See also: https://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/D2Quarterly.aspx?).
This paper describes and analyzes how these two quite different former businessmen, both of whom had vast personal resources, fought each other and the opposition party with their personal fortunes and what that shift in candidate recruitment and campaign funding has already meant for the Republican party and may mean for the future for the Democratic Party and the state of Illinois.