State Sen. Daniel Biss, who has been endorsed by Illinois’ main progressive groups, is now the clear main challenger to J.B. Pritzker in the Democratic primary race for governor.
In the first poll on the race since October, Biss received just under 18 percent support compared to Pritzker’s nearly 30 percent. That’s a big change since the October poll, when Biss was at just six percent and Pritzker near 40. The other main challenger, Chris Kennedy, polled at 11.5 percent.
But crucially, a large number of voters, nearly 38 percent, are undecided just six weeks before the March 20 polling day.
Biss is from Evanston, and leads in suburban Cook County with nearly 30 percent of voters polled and looks to be a credible challenger in Chicago and the collar counties.
His support downstate, at just under four percent, is minimal.
Pritzker is funding his campaign with tens of millions of dollars of his own money — a sum which, at least up until now, seemed designed to match the war chest of Gov. Bruce Rauner. But with Biss gaining in the polls, Pritzker appears to be a little rattled.
Pritzker’s campaign released a 15-second television spot on Thursday attacking Biss on his votes for a pension bill, which the ad claims would have stripped hundreds of thousands of workers of their benefits. That bill was later ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Biss has more than $3 million in cash on hand, and has enough money to launch his own television blitz over the next six weeks before the Democratic primary.
His campaign last week aired a deeply negative spot — the first of the Democratic primary campaign — attacking Pritzker and Kennedy for their alleged failure to release tax returns, and linking both to Rauner and President Donald Trump.
“Trump and Rauner, two rich guys who scammed the system to avoid taxes,” the narrator of the ad says. “Now these Democrats got caught copying them, with tax scams of their own.”
This race is likely, it can be fairly said, to get nastier.