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A look at the running mates and Kennedy’s latest complaint

Monday, Sep 18, 2017

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column was turned in Thursday afternoon, before all the Friday hubbub

So far, all but one of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates have chosen a running mate. And all but one of those candidates have chosen an African-American running mate. And all but two of those candidates have chosen a female African-American running mate.

You won’t find any more loyal, dedicated Democratic voters than black women. Perhaps because of this, the party too often seems to take them for granted.

Picking candidates as window dressing can sometimes backfire, but J.B. Pritzker’s choice is about as qualified as a running mate can get. State Rep. Juliana Stratton, D-Chicago, is the director of the Center for Public Safety & Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She founded a mediation services firm and has a long history dealing with the issue of violence, which is, of course, a big issue today. You may remember she defeated state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, after he sided with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on a couple of key issues. She proved to be a tireless and capable campaigner, and she quickly showed real legislative chops in Springfield.

State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, initially chose a young, gay, Latino Chicago alderman as his running mate, but that didn’t work out. The guy just wasn’t ready for prime time. Biss corrected his mistake by choosing state Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, who has a doctorate in educational psychology, which likely gives us our first gubernatorial ticket with two Ph.D.s (Biss’ is in mathematics). Wallace hasn’t been around the Statehouse very long, but she’s quite popular and a good public speaker with a human touch that the wonky Biss lacks. Biss had been aiming at the Bernie Sanders vote with his choice of Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, and Wallace was a Hillary Clinton delegate to last year’s convention, but she has a solidly progressive voting record.

Chris Kennedy was the last of the top-tier candidates to choose a running mate, partly because the party apparatus has been pretty much conquered by Pritzker. So he went outside the party to choose Ra Joy, an African-American man from Chicago’s South Side who ran Change Illinois, a campaign and government reform group.

Kennedy told me he was recently in the Bronzeville neighborhood meeting with a group of young African-American men. One of them, a 30-year-old attorney, said he and people like him were going to teach the Democratic Party a lesson and not vote. They had voted for Democrats for years and nothing has changed. Joy, Kennedy said, will help combat that apathy because he has long fought for change. We’ll see.

Go read the rest, please.

* Speaking of Kennedy, he told Bernie the same thing as he said to some other reporters last week

Kennedy told me that members of Pritzker’s “enormous” campaign team have been “working the refs,” in this case, reporters and columnists.

“I think they’ve concluded they can’t beat me in the primary, and so they want to try to get me to drop out, so they spread rumors that I’m about to drop out,” Kennedy said.

“That sort of thing doesn’t work with me,” Kennedy added. “I’m the smallest of seven brothers. … They’ll have to swing a lot harder to get me out.”

Responded Pritzker spokeswoman GALIA SLAYEN: “Our campaign is focused on building a professional operation that can go toe-to-toe with Bruce Rauner and hold him accountable every day for the damage he has done to Illinois. Instead of complaining about press to the press, Chris Kennedy’s time would be better spent showing voters why he’s the best candidate to beat Bruce Rauner.”

Good advice. Whining that the other campaign has a stronger team is not a good look.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Fax Machine - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 9:50 am:

    Kennedy got great press coverage on the Ra Joy pick.

  2. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 9:51 am:

    Rich, my compliments. The term ‘window dressing’ is spot on.

  3. - The Captain - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    The Kennedy will drop out/not file speculation has come from every corner so that’s an odd complaint. You’re leading in the last public poll … and addressing rumors that you’re going to drop out, maybe it’s time to look inside for the reason.

  4. - anon - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:01 am:

    JB is the real deal. Chris Kennedy isn’t ready for prime time.

  5. - Ghost - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:22 am:

    Kennedy needs some cheese for all his whine, and maybe an actual campaign team

  6. - Century Club - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:28 am:

    Kennedy is showcasing many of the traits of a first time candidate - complaining about the media, complaining about the other candidates stealing your line, not raising the money, being overly optimistic about unlikely voters.

    This is stuff you’re supposed to work out as a State Rep candidate.

  7. - lake county democrat - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:33 am:

    What Chris isn’t saying is that it wasn’t JB who was leaking the “he’s not running” stuff, it’s the guy who hopefully will be answering questions under oath about running dummy candidates (notwithstanding the judge’s partial goof).

  8. - Come on Man! - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    The heavy handedness of the JB camp is noted and you can usually see how someone will governor. Not quite sure what that means for the other candidates but as Bobby Rush said a few months back, “Money talks, but it don’t listen.”

    I would love to have members of Democratic Caucus ask the members of the Republican Caucus how things are with a billionaire as the head of the party.

  9. - Norseman - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    I’m not a Dem and will not be voting in that primary, but Kennedy has failed to impress.

  10. - A guy - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    ===JB is the real deal. Chris Kennedy isn’t ready for prime time.===

    Neither of them are ready for prime time. Not even close. It’s just that one has spent a lot of money to date making the case he’s not ready.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    ===Neither of them are ready for prime time.===

    The only real question, as Candidate Rauner showed, is if a sitting governor, underwater in polling, can withstand “Bruce Rauner fails”, when Rauner has no signed budgets in 3 fiscal years, no full year’s funding signed by Rauner since inauguration, and the Bret Baier quote which is most damaging when listing failure after failure, after miserable Rauner failure…

    “What’s going to be different in a (Rauner) second term?”

    The only prime-time needed may be just reminding that Rauner and Trump are Republicans, and all the vetoes and damage Rauner has done.

    We’ll know more in April, 2018, but Rauner still won’t have a signed budget then, so…

  12. - A guy - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    Willy, I suspect the narrative will be the budget. He’ll say he wouldn’t sign a bad one. The people will decide. I don’t honestly know where that winds up.

    On the Dem side, they just aren’t inspiring confidence. They get to televised debates and Biss is going to undress both of them. Dan may not win, but in fighting the good fight, he’ll expose the lack of prime time these guys don’t have.

    We’re in for a “default” election. Anything can happen in those, but being the incumbent is probably a slightly better position than the other way.

  13. - Anon0091 - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:26 am:

    Would you like some cheese with that whine Chris?

    Hey, here’s a thought. How about raising some real cash or doing something to show you have your act together. Maybe find an issue to attack Bruce Rauner about and not just Democrats. In other words, put on the big boy pants and get to work, not to whine.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    ===…I suspect the narrative will be the budget===

    Here’s the rub to that.

    A good Dem campaign, not even a campaign measured to “Prime time” or not has all this…

    Rauner wants to “enjoy” the tax increase hammer, the veto to that increase vetoed everything else.

    Rauner wants to claim the budget as bad, it was bipartisanly overriden to “save Illinois from Bruce Rauner”

    Rauner have zero signed budgets is nothing that can be seen but as a failure. Insert Bret Baier question and the damaging clips from that fiasco.

    Trump cuts, and now the “Rauner Cuts” for a budget Rauner vetoed and was overriden. The framed damage, real or otherwise, is budgetary seen.

    To these running mates, in April these running mates are far more equipped than Evelyn ever was to articulate the failures of the sitting Adimistration.

    Be it Joy, Stratton, or Wallace, they will be ready to underscore that “failure” narrative, 2 will be able to describe how they worked daily to save Illinois, Joy will be able to discuss the reform failures Rauner couldn’t get done.

  15. - Miss Mary Mack - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 11:49 am:

    So, Pawar is the only one to select a down-stater, correct?

  16. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 12:08 pm:

    I am the youngest son with 3 older brothers, so I get what Chris is getting at. I took several punches in the kisser, and my smile has never been the same either.

  17. - A guy - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    Willy, with respect, it ain’t going to come down to the LG. Never has, never will.

  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    ===…it ain’t going to come down to the LG. Never has, never will===

    Ole Slip and Sue proves that.

    As of right now, the missing personal injury case hasn’t been all to visible when it came to the budget impasse, veto, override or the school funding agreement.

    If anything, Evelyn’s MIA tenure as the LG probably did more good than the harm Slip and Sue could’ve caused.

    Stratton, Wallace, and Joy are far better… right now… And Evelyn has had an over 2 1/2 year head start… lol

  19. - Urban Girl - Monday, Sep 18, 17 @ 3:52 pm:


    I feel as if you mixed up some of the descriptions.

    Wallace “is about as qualified as a running mate can get.”

    Stratton “hasn’t been around the Statehouse very long.”

    Wallace does do well with people, but the test will be can she meet the demands of a high profile statewide campaign. Stratton definitely has proven her ability to campaign.

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