Billionaire Ken Griffin has increased his investment in Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s Republican bid for governor, pumping an additional $25 million into the campaign after seeding Irvin’s candidacy with an initial $20 million , state campaign finance records showed Thursday.
By doubling down on his financial commitment to Irvin, Griffin appears to be showing confidence in a campaign strategy that has been elevated on the use of television ads and direct mail while having little public contact and visibility.
Griffin, founder and CEO of hedge fund Citadel, is the richest person in the state with a net worth of $26.7 billion, according to Forbes. He is an ardent enemy of Democratic Governor JB Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune and the nation’s wealthiest elected politician with an estimated net worth of $3.6 billion, according to Forbes.
Griffin donated $20 million to Irvin’s campaign shortly after Aurora’s mayor announced his candidacy in mid-January.
Recent campaign finance reports show that Irvin’s first-quarter ad spend was roughly equal to Pritzker’s.
The governor, who spent $171 million of his own money to defeat wealthy Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018, poured $125.5 million of his own money into his re-election campaign, including a $90 million deposit. dollars in January.
Griffin gave Rauner $11.5 million during his successful 2014 campaign for governor and another $22.5 million in his losing effort four years later. Griffin also spent $53.75 million to successfully fight Pritzker’s proposed graduated rate income tax constitutional amendment. Pritzker spent $58 million on this failed effort.
Even before backing Irvin, Griffin had vowed to go “all in” against Pritzker’s re-election. Irvin is among the top five contenders for the GOP nomination in the June 28 primary, along with businessmen Gary Rabine of Bull Valley and Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg, State Senator Darren Bailey of Xenia and former State Senator Paul Schimpf of Waterloo.
Last month, Bailey’s campaign received a $2.5 million injection from another billionaire, conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein of office supply company Uline. Uihlein previously gave Bailey $1 million and also gave $1 million to an independent spending committee supporting Bailey and opposing Irvin.