Ken Griffin gives Rauner’s campaign $20 million

Billionaire hedge fund founder Ken Griffin has donated $20 million to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, ramping up next year’s big-money race for Illinois chief executive.

The contribution by the founder and CEO of Citadel, reported to the State Board of Elections on Tuesday, brings to nearly $33.6 million the amount of money and services that Griffin has contributed to the governor’s political fund since Rauner began running for office in 2013.

The donation appears to be the largest noncandidate contribution ever given to a campaign. Rauner gave his own campaign $50 million in December of last year.

“Gov. Rauner cares deeply about the future of our state and making it a better place to live and work,” Griffin said in a statement. “He has the winning plan to create jobs, improve our schools and put Illinois on the right path forward.”

Griffin is the second-largest contributor to the Republican governor behind only Rauner himself. In his initial 2014 bid and in his current re-election effort, Rauner has given himself $95 million.

The Griffin donation gives Rauner’s re-election bank account nearly $71 million, virtually all of it from the two men.

Rauner, a wealthy former equity investor, is facing a host of potential Democratic challengers. They include billionaire J.B. Pritzker, who has put $7.2 million of his own money into his primary campaign, and businessman Chris Kennedy of the iconic political family, who lifted the donation limits in the contest by putting $250,100 into his bid.

Other, less wealthy candidates seeking the Democratic nomination include state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston, Northwest Side Ald. Ameya Pawar and Madison County regional schools superintendent Bob Daiber.

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