Governor primary broke records, and there's more to come

Most expensive primary in Illinois history? The dubious honor goes to this year's gubernatorial primary where Democrat J.B. Pritzker and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner emerged victorious, a government watchdog group reported Thursday.

Results as of Thursday show that candidates in Tuesday's primary generated $161 million, a sum $131 million more than the amount raised in the 2014 primary, according to an Illinois Campaign for Political Reform study.

More record-breaking is expected in the general election. Hyatt hotel heir Pritzker and investment banker Rauner engaged in name-calling this week after sponsoring negative ads against each other during the primary.

Rauner raised $75,450,080 during the election campaign and Pritzker generated $69,530,883, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform said. Much of the revenues were self-funded.

Next were developer Chris Kennedy of the famous political family with nearly $7 million and state Sen. Daniel Biss with more than $6.7 million.

Final spending tallies should be available in mid-April, when candidates file reports for the first quarter.

Illinois Campaign for Political Reform officials noted that so far the priciest governor's race in the U.S. was in California in 2010, when Republican executive Meg Whitman and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown spent a collective $280 million.

It means Illinois is "on track to break records as the most expensive gubernatorial election cycle by the end of 2018," an Illinois Campaign for Political Reform release said.

Rauner on Thursday compared the business practices of Illinois' powerful House speaker with mafia tactics, opening a new attack on his longtime political foe while urging Republican unity following the bruising primary he barely won.

The Republican governor slammed Democrat Michael Madigan during a campaign stop at Ace Sign. Co. in Springfield. He alleged the speaker has used his legislative post to help lower the property tax assessments for clients at his law firm. Madigan has repeatedly noted that he recuses himself from property-assessment legislation.

Pritzker is Madigan's "money source," Rauner claimed.

He said Pritzker is part of the "machine" and has long financed campaigns for Madigan and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now serving a federal prison term for political corruption.

In response, Pritzker spokeswoman Galia Slayen said, "With no record and no allies, Bruce Rauner is building his general election campaign on lies to distract from the pain he's caused across this state."

Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.

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