In a race that was called shortly after the polls closed, Illinois voters chose a new governor — by an overwhelming margin.
Jay Robert “J.B.” Pritzker, the billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, added another line to his resume as he was elected governor on Nov. 6.
Democrat Pritzker won 54.2 percent of the votes cast, a total of 2,382,536, in an election that saw record turnout across the nation. Incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner received 39.2 percent, 1,723,015 votes.
As Pritzker gathered his transition team, including former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, to make the move into the governor’s office — and the Governor’s Mansion — Illinois agriculture interests welcomed the new governor and pledged to work with him.
“We look forward to building a strong relationship with Governor-elect Pritzker and his team, so we can work together to ensure the growth of Illinois agriculture, a cornerstone of our state’s economy,” said Richard Guebert Jr., president of Illinois Farm Bureau.
“We look forward to working with Governor-elect Pritzker to ensure the continued success of soybean production in Illinois,” said Lynn Rohrscheib, chairwoman of the Illinois Soybean Growers and a farmer from Fairmount.
Rodney Weinzierl, executive director of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Corn Growers Association, said he and others were impressed by what they saw and heard from Pritzker during the Illinois Agriculture Roundtable Candidates Forum in August.
“He did an excellent job of knowing the ag issues and responding to the questions they had. He had a really good grasp of what the issues are that agriculture has. I think people felt pretty good about his knowledge, or at least his willingness in understanding the issue and the details,” he said.
Weinzierl added that the state’s ag leaders and farmers would be watching what direction the new administration takes on any revenue plans, including any plans that would threaten the state’s ag sales tax exemption, that exempts farm inputs from state sales taxes.
“Agriculture always has concerns about the ag sales tax exemptions for inputs. Farmers buy retail and sell wholesale, so there’s always kind of a fear there, and he seemed to be aware of that at the farmers forum,” he said.
Weinzierl said he didn’t hear names yet for the state director of agriculture job.
“I haven’t heard names yet, but it seems like they are going about it in a professional way, methodical canvassing and trying to identify people who are interested,” he said.
This article provided by NewsEdge.