Citadel Founder Ken Griffin-Backed Candidate Loses Republican Primary In Illinois Governor Race

Zinger Key Points
  • State Sen. Darren Bailey defeated Mayor Richard Irvin in the Republican primary for Illinois governor
  • Irvin was backed by Citadel's Ken Griffin
  • The primary, a proxy battleground for billionaires, was the most expensive such race this year in the United States

Citadel Securities founder Ken Griffin's $50 million bet on a candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary in Illinois has not paid off.

What Happened: Aurora, Illinois, Mayor Richard Irvin lost to State Sen. Darren Bailey on Tuesday night, reported NBC 5 Chicago.

“In this race for governor, we may not have reached our goals tonight, but we are victorious for daring to step into the arena,” said Irvin.

Irvin’s backer Griffin said, “I believe Richard Irvin would have been a terrific governor, and I am proud to have supported his campaign,” according to the report.

Bailey, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, will go on to face the incumbent Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire and the wealthiest elected official in the United States, reported The Wall Street Journal. 

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Why It Matters: Griffin’s backing of Irvin turned the primary race into the most expensive in the U.S. so far in 2022, noted the Journal.

Richard Uihlein — the billionaire founder of Uline office-supply business — backed Bailey in the race.

The primary turned out to be a proxy battle between Griffin, Uihlein, and Pritzker, who all spent freely, according to the Journal.

The incumbent spent more than $54 million on advertising, attacking Irvin, or promoting Bailey, who is considered to be on the far-right. 

The ads noted Bailey’s loyalty to Trump and his conservative views, considered to be helpful for the democrats going forward in the Governor race, according to the Journal. Trump lost Illinois in the 2020 presidential election by nearly 17 percentage points.

Griffin and Pritzker have reportedly been at loggerheads with each other, with the violent crime in Chicago being the latest bone of contention. The latter said he was moving his businesses and himself to Miami. The Citadel founder was the richest resident of The Prairie State.

Citadel was in the crosshairs of retail investors that conducted short-squeezes in the stocks of GameStop Corporation GME and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc AMC last year. GameStop short seller Melvin Capital received $2.75 billion in funding from Citadel and Point72 after it stared at massive losses post the retail-investor-led short squeeze.

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