SPRINGFIELD — Incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner could be in serious trouble as he attempts re-election this year, according to a new poll of the state's voters.
The poll, by Victory Research, found that Rauner, a Republican, is trailing Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker by about 18 percentage points. The poll of 1,208 likely Illinois voters showed Pritzker with 49.4 percent of the vote, to Rauner's 31.2 percent.
The poll, conducted by live callers on land lines and cellphones, was conducted during the second half of last week.
The Illinois gubernatorial contest is getting national attention for the fact that both candidates are mega-wealthy businessmen with little political background. Some have dubbed it "The Battle of the Billionaires."
Rauner, a former venture capitalist who is worth close to $1 billion, never sought political office before winning the Illinois governor's office in 2014. Pritzker, who has held no political office, is heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune and has an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion.
Both candidates are mostly self-funding and have already spent tens of millions of dollars apiece. By the time the Nov. 6 general election rolls around, the race is widely expected to shatter the current record for the most expensive governor's race in history: the 2010 California race between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, which cost a combined $280 million.
Rauner, a moderate Republican trying to hold onto his seat in a bright blue state with complete Democratic control of the Legislature, was almost beaten in the March GOP primary by a little-known hard-right Republican state legislator.
Some Democrats, meanwhile, have complained that the party establishment has bowed to Pritzker in hopes his personal fortune would nullify the huge money advantage Rauner enjoyed four years ago.