Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker walks through the lobby at the Westin Hotel in Portland on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at the start of a three-day National Governors Association conference. It's the first time the event has been held in Maine since the early 1980s. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker did not not rule out a 2024 run for the Democratic presidential nomination during a brief interview at a conference on Thursday.

Asked about renewed conversation over whether President Joe Biden should remain the Democrats’ standard-bearer ahead of the 2024 election, Pritzker would not rule out running if Biden did not. He was thinking more about his political future in Illinois.

“I’m focused on my own [2022] reelection,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker, a billionaire whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain, was in Maine for the National Governors Association’s annual summer meeting. He spoke to the Bangor Daily News after participating in a session on tourism with other governors, including Maine Gov. Janet Mills.

Pritzker clinched the Democratic nominee for governor late last month in a race that is already squaring up to be one of the most expensive gubernatorial races ever, mostly because of the incumbent’s fortune. But the race does not look particularly competitive, with FiveThirtyEight giving Pritzker a 99 percent chance of beating Republican state lawmaker Darren Bailey.

The Illinois governor has stoked speculation of a potential White House run, particularly after a June trek to New Hampshire for a speech to Democrats in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Pritzker, who campaigned for Mills in her race with former Republican Gov. Paul LePage on that trip, said the Maine governor has “done an amazing job.”

“She’s standing up for reproductive rights, she’s standing up for individual rights,” Pritzker said. “And frankly, people who have been left out and left behind — middle-class families who need someone on their side.”

Mills, hearing the praise while walking by, told Pritzker to “say that a little louder” while laughing.

Pritzker has also been open in his support of stricter gun laws after a shooter opened fire on a July 4 parade crowd in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb, killing seven and injuring.

The kind of firepower accessible to the Highland Park shooter, who has been charged with multiple counts of murder, should not be readily available, Pritzker said. The shooter had three 30-round magazines, allowing him to quickly discharge 83 shots in less than a minute, Pritzker noted while imitating a gun reloading.

“This is not something that we need to have legal in the United States, other than perhaps for the military or the police,” Pritzker said.