Former President Barack Obama endorsed J.B. Pritzker on Monday in a video, throwing his considerable political weight behind the Illinois’ Democratic governor nominee with a tarnished record on race.
“I know JB, I trust JB,” Obama said in the video, adding that Pritzker is “someone who’s always thinking about how he can make a difference. Someone who identifies the right problems and brings the right people together to solve them, and that’s something we can use in Illinois.”
Pritzker, a billionaire businessman, was exposed as a closet racist in a 2008 FBI wiretapped conversation that surfaced earlier this year. On the recording, Pritzker talks with former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who’s serving a prison sentence for attempting to cash in on filling Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. In that conversation, Pritzker recommended filling the seat with the “least offensive” Black candidate.
Obama joins many other Black leaders and voters in Chicago who have accepted Pritzker’s apology.
The former president owes some of his political success to the candidate’s sister, Penny Pritzker, the New York Times reported in 2012. She was one of Obama’s top donors and public supporters during his run for the U.S. Senate and his first run for the presidency.
“He was a long-shot candidate who needed her support and imprimatur. Mr. Obama and Ms. Pritzker grew close, sometimes spending weekends with their families at her summer home,” according to the newspaper.
Pritzker is the first candidate Obama endorsed in a video for the upcoming midterm elections, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The former president posted an initial list on Aug. 1 of 81 candidates he’s backing in the November general elections. He’s expected to endorse another group of candidates after primary races in August and September.