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Kennedy rolls out new running mate

Thursday, Sep 14, 2017

* The Tribune interview of Ra Joy, Chris Kennedy’s new running mate is basically in two parts. One is about how their personal tragedies brought them together

During the three months since his 23-year-old son was shot and killed in Woodlawn, government reform activist Ra Joy has sought out advice on moving forward with his life.

“I actively sought out individuals who had experienced the sudden dramatic loss of a loved one to gun violence. Talked to a lot of people,” Joy said.

Among those he spoke with was Chris Kennedy. The Democratic candidate for governor is the son of Robert F. Kennedy, who was slain in a 1968 run for the presidency, and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.

Nobody really wants to talk much about the violence problem, but they both have stories to tell and maybe they can articulate a way forward. We’ll see.

* And the other part is about Joy’s government reform work with Change Illinois

“Instead of a government that serves all people, we have this system where a small handful of insiders wield disproportionate power at the expense of ordinary voters. As a result, people are hurting all across this state from the classroom to the boardroom to the kitchen table. And, it doesn’t have to be this way,” he said.

“There’s some people in this campaign who talk about fighting the machine,” Joy said. He said that unlike others — who went unnamed — Kennedy was “unencumbered by puppet strings.”

I wasn’t a fan of that group’s remap reform proposal. It was a needlessly complicated Rube Goldberg machine.

But Kennedy has made government reform a big priority, and Joy can certainly speak on that topic from experience.

* From the Kennedy campaign…

Chris Kennedy announced today that he has selected Ra Joy to join his ticket as his Lieutenant Governor nominee. Joy brings to the campaign a strong desire for change and optimism that Illinois can, once again, be a land of opportunity. Together, they will roll up their sleeves, talk truth to power, and get results for families who have been left behind by the status quo.

In announcing his selection of Joy, Kennedy stated, “I am honored that Ra Joy has decided to join me and run for lieutenant governor. Ra believes, as I do, that through sacrifice and hard work, we can truly change the course of Illinois. With Ra at my side, I will take on the entrenched interests that, for so long, have used public office to advance private gain. Ra and I can reform the inherently unfair tax system, we can stem the flood of gun violence, and we can make certain that every child in Illinois has full and equal access to a quality education. I know that Ra will join me in this fight to end a broken system and bring change to Illinois.”

Ra has spent his entire life working in the very areas that are the focus of Kennedy’s campaign. His leadership of CHANGE Illinois is a shining example of the notion that, in a state beholden to political insiders, people can still make a difference.

“It is truly a privilege to join Chris Kennedy on the ticket,” Joy said. “I am a lifelong Illinois resident who knows that the top down approach to state government is leaving too many people behind. We need a leader willing to change the way we run government. Chris Kennedy is that leader. Chris has the heart and the compassion to fight for people and the courage to take on a political establishment that for so long has ignored the needs of our state. Chris has the independence to do what is right – and the ability to do it.”

Joy, 44, is a civic entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to advancing the public interest. Joy has embraced leadership roles as an advocate for redistricting reform and automatic voter registration in his role as executive director of CHANGE Illinois. Joy led statewide and citywide initiatives to elevate the role of the arts and culture in people’s lives, schools, and communities as executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois. Joy was a tireless advocate for local community economic development initiatives as a senior aide to U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston). Joy has been a leader and advocate for fundamental, community-based change for nearly two decades.

Joy’s commitment to civic and social change has resulted in widespread acclaim and recognition. Joy received the Cultural Champion Award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance and the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Joy has been awarded fellowships from the Chicago Community Trust and Leadership Greater Chicago. Joy is a member of The City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council and The Economic Club of Chicago.

Joy participated in the Executive Development Program and as a Kellogg Executive Scholar at The Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University. Joy earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where he was a member of the varsity football team. Joy, born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, is a graduate of its public schools, graduating from Evanston Township High School in 1991.

Joy is a lifelong resident of Illinois. Joy and his wife, Falona, live on the Southside of Chicago. Falona is a graduate of Stanford University and the Founder and President of SNP – Integrated Strategy for Nonprofits.

* And they’ve released a video

* I chatted with Kennedy a bit today and one of the things I asked was why he was confident that his new running mate could take the helm of government if something happened to him.

Kennedy said he wanted to choose someone with “executive experience,” and Ra checked that box because he’s run some organizations.

More importantly, though, Kennedy said he wanted someone with a solid “core,” someone who wouldn’t be influenced by insiders to do something he knew wasn’t right. “That’s a very real issue to me,” Kennedy said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Amalia - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 8:47 am:

    Football at SIU. interesting piece of the puzzle.

  2. - Blue dog dem - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 8:55 am:

    Looks like this round will be 3 out of 5 union households for Rauner.

  3. - Perwinkle - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 8:58 am:

    Seems like a great guy, incredibly unqualified to be governor. Says something that this is the best Kennedy could do.

  4. - anon - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 8:59 am:

    Great choice - Kennedy is righting the ship with this selection.

  5. - TopHatMonocle - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:01 am:

    Seems like a nice guy with a compelling story. But it shows that no elected official was willing to join Kennedy’s ticket. Joy doesn’t have any name recognition, clear base of voters, or past donors. He lives in Stratton’s district to boot I think. Overall a decent choice but probably doesn’t help Kennedy much.

  6. - JoeMaddon - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:06 am:

    **Looks like this round will be 3 out of 5 union households for Rauner.**

    Didn’t you already endorse Kennedy? What’s the problem with Joy that you have?

  7. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:13 am:

    First, thanks Rich for this “one-stop” Post that covers multiple angles of this choice of Chirs Kennedy but gives context to each point and the bigger, broader picture. This is great, so thank you.

    To the Post,

    As an individual harping on when a choice by Kennedy would be made and who that person may be, Chris Kennedy did a really great job in finding a running mate that doesn’t seem “attached” because of an answer of “yes” to the running mate question.

    As with any campaigns, there are themes that a Governor Candidate would like voters to see and see those themes as good and unique to them. Kennedy checks that box in unique ways with his choice.

    Ra Joy has significant and public experience, and executive experience working within governing parameters and the relationships between governing and how that governing is then taken beyond theory and into practice, and understanding pitfalls and successes along the way.

    The reform angle, the maps specifically, as a broader and thematic cornerstone for Kennedy, Joy allows Kennedy the luxury of being seen as someone willing to bring in someone that has been in the thick of it, and the worry that others will say “this is lip service” has now been blunted with Joy standing with Kennedy, even with the continued challenges Joy and his own reform faced with how they went about trying to change politics in Illinois.

    I can’t and I won’t go too far or even delve too deep into the family history and tragedies they both share in violence and their families. Nor will I trivialize the thought or the obvious. I will say and borrow from Rich if I could in this by saying “they both have stories to tell and maybe they can articulate a way forward.” The articulation and their own discussions within the campaign will allow a broader discussion I’m sure and as s campaign they will set the tone, tenor, visibility, and pacing and I’ll watch and see how they approach that from today forward.

    As for Ra Joy, Kennedy has chosen someone that has a solid reputation and has shown a caring for Illinois and a love and want for a better Illinois. Joy is someone you can disagree with but doesn’t in a much broader since is disagreeable in a persona to repel people, especially allies needed. This is a good choice, I look forward to seeing Joy campaign.

    The play here seems to also be very “Kennedy”;

    Thematic campaigning with the pieces in place in a campaign to highlight themes and remind voters of the imagery and philosophies they believe.

    A partner with Ra Joy allows the thematic Kennedy campaigning.

    Can they build an imfastructure and raise the monies needed for both to build on Kennedy’s 44% and the lead Kennedy enjoys will be a discussion for another day… or Post…

    … but congratulations to both Chris and Ra and I’ll be watching you guys with a greater interest now.

  8. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:14 am:

    Was hoping some Dem candidate would pick a Downstate running mate but Joy seems like a good pick from this day one bio info.

    Perhaps Kennedy can be the #1 not-Pritzker after all.

  9. - Blue dog dem - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:16 am:

    Joe. I have endorsed noone. Unkess something changes, i wont be casting a ballot come Nov ‘18. Bad, bad,bad choices.

  10. - Ghost - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:30 am:

    What happened to Mr Joy is just horrible and he has my support in his advocacy.

    That said I dont see him adding anything to the ticket. Joy does not bring in downstate support and does not have appear to be able to draw a lot of chicago area support.

    Joy is a good man, but a bad choice for a lt gov canidate.

  11. - The Muse - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:32 am:

    Ahhh yes, Ra Joy. The dominate political fundraiser, legislative juggernaut, and we’ll-known statesmen. Kennedy clearly chose the most qualified running mate. /s

  12. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:34 am:

    ===I have endorsed noone===

    Stop the presses!

  13. - Arsenal - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:46 am:

    Well, at least Kennedy can get on the ballot now.

    I’m kind of dubious about the claim that Joy could step into the Governor’s office. But I could say the same about Sanguinetti, so.

    I think Joy could end up being an effective surrogate for Kennedy (and man, he needs one) but it doesn’t seem to build out his coalition in any logical way. Of course, since Kennedy never quite figured out who his base is…

  14. - AC - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    == i wont be casting a ballot come Nov ‘18. Bad, bad,bad choices==

    What past election didn’t require us to choose between imperfect human beings, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages?

  15. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 9:59 am:

    I am bewildered by this messaging:

    “I am a lifelong Illinois resident who knows that the top down approach to state government is leaving too many people behind. We need a leader willing to change the way we run government.”

    First, this is just a weaker, fuzzier version of Rauner’s “Shale up Springfield” message, and we all saw how well that worked out.

    Secondly, the words themselves are contradictory. The problem with Springfield is its top-down approach, so Chris Lennedy is going to come in as a strong leader and make changes from the top down?

    I don’t get it.

    Secondly, with all due respect to the nonprofit sector in general and the Illinois Arts Alliance in particular, whose mission I support:::

    Ra maybe oversaw 5 employees at the Alliance. That isn’t what most people would consider “executive experience.” A manager at Pet Smart has more executive responsibility.

    His job now is with an even smaller group raising less money. That is not your typical career move. It is a red flag. I know that Kennedy says that Joy was vetted, but folks are going to be digging to find out why.

    I am even more curious because of Kennedy’s decision to blow off the candidate forum of The Alliance just days earlier.

  16. - illini - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:06 am:

    — A manager at Pet Smart has more executive responsibility. —

    Give me a break, is this the best you can do?

  17. - LXB - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:08 am:

    Would any of these selected running mates have been likely to run under the old Lt Gov primary system?

  18. - Christopher - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:11 am:

    Blue dog dem: “Unkess [ sic ] something changes, i wont be casting a ballot come Nov ‘18. Bad, bad,bad choices.”

    Please re-think your plan. The current office holder cannot remain there. Surely one of the announced Democrats must appeal to you.

  19. - phocion - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    One of the best spots from any campaign. Mr. Joy comes across instantly as likeable, relatable, ethnical, sympathetic, strong. The fact that he isn’t an elected official isn’t a minus these days, folks. Appears to be a very solid choice by candidate Kennedy. Best wishes to both.

  20. - logic not emotion - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:25 am:

    They need to expound upon their ideas to address gun violence. Otherwise, most gun owners will assume that is just another name for gun control and vote for their opponent.

  21. - Arsenal - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:26 am:

    ==Would any of these selected running mates have been likely to run under the old Lt Gov primary system?==

    Dunno how likely they would’ve been, but Stratton and Wallace would’ve been good candidates for it. Jill Tracy would’ve been last time out.

  22. - Blue dog dem - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:27 am:

    Sorry. I am a 1-1/2 issue voter. Steel and guns. In that order. I have yet to hear a peep on thise issues out anyone.

  23. - Amalia - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:33 am:

    The video, while too long for tv, is really heartwarming without being cloying. Mass emailing of this, I am sure. they seem natural together, not a hard sell kind of message.

  24. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:33 am:

    ===…Stratton and Wallace would’ve been good candidates for it. Jill Tracy would’ve been last time out.===

    These examples, excellent examples, are why the “ticket” gambit fails, even as we also needed to grasp a Scott Lee Cohen was not only possible, but happened.

    A “Rauner/Tracy” ticket would’ve quelled the “Slip and Sue” embarrassment.

    By the way, where was Ole Slip and Sue during the budget veto, and override? Did I miss her? Was she even a prop at near a podium?

    What has been promising is that Pritzker, Biss (now), and Kennedy have running mates that even now give Sanguinetti a serious run in the comparison of what each bring to the office currently occupied by a person whose credentials haven’t really grown, and her visibility has been stifled even more.

  25. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    ==- Blue dog dem - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:27 am:==

    Maybe pay closer attention b/c at least one of those issues has been addressed by a candidate currently in the race. Maybe they don’t have the same position as you, but they’ve got a plan.

  26. - Blue dog dem - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    PC. You are right. Just trying to help the Dems out. Most trade union guys i know and run with, care more about guns than union issues. The union bosses cannot(as witnessed by last election) exert the influence they think.

  27. - Century Club - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    I don’t know much about Mr. Joy, but on the surface, this pick seems very, very good. More than Pritzker and Biss, Kennedy’s chances rely on building a base through the narrative vs. through organization. Joy builds the narrative in significant ways. The issue of gun violence is so potent in the Chicago area that they can really set themselves apart with this issue.

    On the experience level, Stratton and Wallace have been State Reps for 1 and 3 years respectively. They are impressive people, but let’s be honest, believing they can run Illinois has much to do with their competence and almost nothing to do with their experience. At first glance, it appears Joy will meet the same bar.

  28. - Century Club - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    Blue Dog, here is Kennedy’s description of his gun violence agenda. I think it’s designed to appeal to guys like you since not much of it is about guns, but I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum, so I don’t have a sense of whether it will or not. I’d be interested in your reaction.

  29. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    Rich…nice article BUT I think that all these LT Gov canidates are weak….just like I did when Rauner picked Seg…. what is wrong with these parties???

  30. - Ghost - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    Illini, a pet smart is a pretty complicated operation…..

  31. - Veil of Ignorance - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    Ra Joy is an authentic human being and well-regarded by those who interact with him. I think he’ll be a major positive for Kennedy, especially because the two men have real history and this is more than just a political partnership.

  32. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    This pick is every bit as good as Chris’ smile.

  33. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    ==I am a 1-1/2 issue voter==

    And you’re proud of that?

  34. - Anon0091 - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    “But Kennedy has made government reform a big priority, and Joy can certainly speak on that topic from experience.”

    Joy is an intriguing pick because the horrific and unbelievably tragic personal experience he had might lead to an interesting conversation about violence. I can’t imagine in a million years what he went through. But if the question is about government reform, then it really becomes one of Kennedy’s commitment to reform. Chris has been a member of the civic community here for decades. So how involved was he supporting government reform efforts?

    Did he give money to either of the Maps campaigns? Nope.
    Did he give money to support campaign finance reform? Nope.
    Did he give money to support any other government reform efforts? Nope.
    Was he personally involved in any of the above reform efforts?Nope.

    In other words, when it counted on government reform, as opposed to when it became politically expedient, was he ever there? Nope.

  35. - blue dog dem - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 1:38 pm:

    Dem. Not really. I have come to accept the fact that neither political party cares about the middle class. Its all just campaign rhetoric.

  36. - Red fish blue fish - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    ==This pick is every bit as good as Chris’ smile==
    There are legitimate criticisms to be made about the Kennedy campaign. This is not one of them.

    Do better.

  37. - LilLebowskiUrbanAchiever - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    0091- you tried this same garbage yesterday. Are you saying JB is a change agent… when the only reason’s he’s running is because the Speaker asked him to?

    There is in major campaign that would bring reform, this pick reinforces that.

    Plus, I’m not sure you want people to be examining everything JB has given money to.

  38. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    - Anon0091 -

    I think you should check Ra Joy’s history with fair maps.


  39. - Fire GarPax - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 2:00 pm:

    Before he ran Change IL, Ra ran the IL Arts Alliance, which is a plus in my book. Was also a staffer for Jan, so I think he has more experience than some here are giving credit for. Also, helps with messaging from several angles, and appears to have a stronger relationship with CK then Bruce and Evelyn.

  40. - Anon0091 - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 2:48 pm:


    Not sure why looking at Kennedy’s record is “garbage.” He has been AWOL on the things he now claims are priorities. It’s a simple question - either he’s demonstrated that commitment over his tenure in Chicago or this is just a bunch of political expediency.

    As for Ra Joy, I’m not questioning his commitment. He was there. Kennedy was not.

  41. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 2:52 pm:

    ===As for Ra Joy, I’m not questioning his commitment. He was there. Kennedy was not.===

    That’s why running mates compliment each other or shore up possible weaknesses.

    You do understand that.

  42. - Anon0091 - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 2:59 pm:

    Sure I understand that. But I’m talking about Kennedy’s reform cred which is nonexistent. This whole plank of his campaign reeks of hypocrisy and is best embodied by the consummate outsider Kennedy tapped to run his finance committee, Bill Daley.

  43. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 3:03 pm:

    ===Sure I understand that. But… ===

    Yeah. Right there. That’s where you fail.

    You understand or you don’t.

    If you understand and put a “but”… that’s not being honest to understanding it, or you’re spinning it away from that you claim you understand.

    “Sure I understand that. But… ”

    With respect.

  44. - Anon0091 - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 3:20 pm:


    So you’re saying Kennedy’s record doesn’t matter because he tapped Ra Joy as his running mate?

    With respect, a running mate is not an impenetrable force field against a candidate’s own record.

  45. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 3:26 pm:

    ===So you’re saying Kennedy’s record doesn’t matter because he tapped Ra Joy as his running mate?===

    No. Keep up.

    You agreed that…

    ===That’s why running mates compliment each other or shore up possible weaknesses.===

    Your response?

    ===Sure I understand that. But… ===

    Either you do understand it, or you don’t.

    ===a running mate is not an impenetrable force field against a candidate’s own record.===

    So then you ding Kennedy for getting a running mate, and you “claim” you understand how this choice shores up a weakness, “but”

    Then you’re a blind partisan, willing to “accept” that this pick follows the rules of a running mate choice “but”…

    You’re not looking at it objectively.

  46. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 3:40 pm:

    Ra Joy is a fine young man with progressive roots. He’s very well regarded in the Chicago/north suburbs and beyond. Clearly, a non-traditional choice but might prove to be a benefit to a candidate that a lot of the posters on this blog had written off.

  47. - Anon0091 - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 3:44 pm:

    I don’t think you’re following me Willy. I’m not dinging him for the pick. I’m saying that Kennedy has had zero commitment to political reform for decades and this pick doesn’t change that.

  48. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 3:50 pm:

    - Anon0091 -

    No. I’m following fine.

    ===I’m saying that Kennedy has had zero commitment to political reform for decades and this pick doesn’t change that.===

    … and yet, his first decision as a candidate, Kennedy addresses your concern. You’re looking at this with partisan eyes..

    ===I’m not dinging him for the pick.===

    You say you understand how candidates pick running mates, yet you dismiss the rationale and the first decision Kennedy made that addresses your “temepered” concerns.

    ===…Kennedy has had zero commitment to political reform for decades…===

    … so… Kennedy responded to that. You’re not looking at it objectively, as you’ve made up your mind… with “decades”

  49. - Anon0091 - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 4:22 pm:


    We normally see things the same (other than on Rosa). We’ll just have to agree to disagree on whether his past matters in the current context.

  50. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 14, 17 @ 4:27 pm:

    - Anon0091 -

    ===We’ll just have to agree to disagree on…===

    … your partisanship you’re ignoring while trying to say you understand the ideal that running mates compliment and/or shore up weaker points for a Guv candidate?

    It’s ok to be partisan. Saying we must “agree to disagree”, given what I’ve read, it isn’t fair to the discussion. That’s all.

    No worries. All good.

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