Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker traveled to Florida last weekend to serve as keynote speaker for Florida Democrats’ “Leadership Blue Weekend” event for high-dollar donors.

Illinois’ governor somehow fancies himself a 2024 presidential contender, and so, inevitably, Pritzker delivered a scathing rebuke to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He’s not the only Democrat who has targeted DeSantis, one of the presumed Republican frontrunners (if Donald Trump doesn’t run again). Gavin Newsom cut a cheeky ad urging Floridians to move to California. The problem with Pritzker’s bombastic barrage is that Florida outperforms Illinois on every important metric.

For example, Pritzker criticized DeSantis for his COVID virus response, even though Florida served as a model for the rest of America by carefully guarding vulnerable elderly residents while allowing civil society to thrive. Restaurants stayed open and children attended in-person school and competed in sports. Countless refugees from harshly locked down jurisdictions across America flocked to the sensible normalcy of Florida.

Pritzker should know this, because his very own family was one such group of freedom-seeking refugees. During the spring 2020 lockdowns, when Pritzker issued draconian shelter-in-place rules for all Illinois residents and banned “non-essential” travel, his own family jetted off via private aviation for his ultra-luxury equestrian estate near Palm Beach. The one that J.B. purchased for $12 million in 2018.

When Pritzker was confronted by reporters about his family’s travel to their horse plantations in both Florida and Wisconsin, he defended the trips, claiming that the billionaire family just needed to feed the livestock. “There are animals on that farm, that it’s an essential function to take care of animals at a farm, so that’s what they’re doing.” Sure thing, Farmer Pritzker.

I don’t blame the Pritzkers for preferring the free Florida of Ron DeSantis to the depressed dominion of King Pritzker in suppressed Illinois, but the hypocrisy here is next-level arrogance.

Pritzker also indulged in the typical and dismal Democratic Party default position, accusing DeSantis of “covert racism, homophobia, and misogyny.” But a more telling indication of the respective quality of life in their respective states is the wholesale exodus out of his own state of Illinois, much of it forming a one-way convoy to the Sunshine State.

If DeSantis presides over some land of prejudice, apparently no one told the diverse Illinoisans who now bull-rush into Florida as their new home. Anyone who’s booked a U-Haul truck lately knows that a one-way rental from Illinois to Florida costs far more than the reverse trip north. Rates are typically more than three times as expensive heading toward Florida. Why is that? It’s because so few choose to leave Florida for Illinois. U-Haul’s own numbers validate that Florida is the second strongest destination state. while Illinois is the second lowest.

IRS data from 2020 reveals that Illinois lost a total of over 100,000 residents to domestic migration during that lockdown year, while Florida gained 166,000. Adjusted for size, Illinois ranked 48th out of the 50 states for total net people lost/gained due to domestic migration.

Those fleeing Illinoisans are apparently productive workers, and will help DeSantis grow his state’s economy. The same IRS numbers reveal that Florida was, by far, the largest state beneficiary of Adjusted Gross Income from incoming residents, a massive total of $41 billion in new personal earnings for Floridians. Analysis from shows Illinois with a miserable loss of $8.5 billion from its fleeing citizens. Adjusted for population, only New York state fared worse than Illinois in losing people and incomes to Florida.

Perhaps instead of spewing drivel in Florida, Pritzker could have stayed home, trying to fix the various crises that afflict his state under his mismanagement. The very weekend of J.B.’s Florida jaunt, 27 people were shot in the city of Chicago, eight of them fatally. As alarming as that total sounds, it is actually a tame summer weekend by the bloody and sad standards of Pritzker’s adopted home town, a place where the military sent medics to train in gunshot wounds before deployment to other war zones, like Iraq.

In addition to frightening violence, the economic plight of Pritzker’s Illinois worsens and crushes the prosperity of residents. Take gasoline prices, for example. Illinois pump prices are a full 69 cents per gallon higher than the average of the surrounding five border states. Inflation is a national crisis, exacerbated by Pritzker’s political pal Joe Biden, to be sure. But the sting is worse in Illinois, where gas prices surpass even those of New York.

J.B. likely appreciated fueling up his jet in Florida, a state that combines lower energy prices with elevated personal freedoms. This coming November, the good people of the Land of Lincoln would be well served by retiring Pritzker from politics, freeing him up to spend uninterrupted time in DeSantis’ Florida.

Steve Cortes is a former adviser to President Donald Trump.

Originally published on

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