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Biss tries to explain the Ramirez-Rosa matter

Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017

* Sen. Daniel Biss held a Facebook Live event last night

ATTENDEE: People are asking if you would please comment a little bit on the situation involving your first running mate if you can do that and there’s a follow up question but I’ll only ask it if it’s necessary.

BISS: So, Illinois only in the last two election cycles governor/lieutenant governor candidates run as a team in the primary and then get nominated together and run together in the general election. And I actually think it’s a really good reform because what it means is you can run as a partnership, and that partnership can be carried into the office of governor and lt. governor and that’s really the only circumstance in which certain lieutenant governor’s position makes a lot of sense.

And so, I spent part of the summer thinking about who I wanted to run with and interviewing a series of people and one of the options of who was on my short list was an alderman from the Northwest Side of the city from the 35th Ward by the name of Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. And I can talk more about his strengths of which there are plenty, and I can talk some about his weaknesses, everybody has some. But it was an exciting partnership in certain respects, but there were some things that I wanted to check out.

One thing that some people told me I should look out for was he’s a member of the Democratic Socialist of America. And my attitude was ‘I don’t believe in guilt by association, I’m not going to participate in calling someone out because they’re a socialist.’ I disagree with that. I think we should welcome people who are from active progressive groups, but I also wanted to make sure that I was comfortable with the positions taken by the organization or at least if not, feel free to talk about them.

So, I read the organization’s platform and there’s an awful lot there that I promptly agree with and there’s things that I have modest disagreements with, but could easily see both sides.

But there was one set of issues that because of my personal family background, where I come from as a grandson of a Holocaust survivor was important to me personally. Candidly speaking, not one of the most important issues facing the state government, but it’s an issue that is important to me personally and that’s what’s called the BDS or Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement regarding the relationship between Israel and Palestine.

I just have a personal discomfort with that which I’m getting to if you guys will find interesting, but my guess is it’s not you want to talk about tonight. And so, because of that, I asked him his position and he said he shares my position, and Bernie Sanders’ position was not in support of that movement, and then during the course of the first few days of the campaign as we got a lot of questions about it I think he did a lot of thinking and came to a different conclusion and obviously I respect his right to change his mind and I respect his potion but it was a division that I just didn’t feel was going to be workable for the ticket and so I regrettably had to part ways and then move forward with another person who is under active consideration and is a good friend and a close ally, her name is Litesa Wallace.

She is a state representative from Rockford whom I fought with on a variety of issues we fought on LGBT issues, we recently passed a bill into law that even Bruce Rauner signed advancing LGBTQ justice that she was the House sponsor that I was the Senate sponsor. We fought side by side especially on access to child care, she’s someone who I know well and trust, we share a commonality on values and so we had to make a change and moving forward full speed ahead and ya know it was obviously a difficult situation and an uncomfortable situation, but I would say that Carlos is a strong progressive we share a lot of values he’s a good person and a good ally on important issues and obviously someone I think has a very, very bright future in politics.”

Lots of words. The full video is here. The snippet above is here.

* What really happened between the two men is still in dispute

Ramirez-Rosa denies the claim that he flip-flopped. He told the Reader he has opposed BDS at the state and local level because city and state governments shouldn’t engage in foreign policy—but he supports it at the federal level.

“What I said in June 2016 at the People’s Summit is that we need to have a conversation about the best way that the U.S. federal government exerts pressure on the state of Israel to bring about a two-state solution,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “I recognize Israel’s right to exist. I want to see an end to the occupation of Palestine and we need to have a constructive dialogue about what the U.S. government does in relation to the money it sends Israel to put pressure to create that two-state solution. I have made those positions clear in numerous public forums and it’s unfortunate that Senator Biss did not understand those facts.”

How much did [Congressman Brad Schneider] withdrawing his endorsement play into the understanding of those facts?

“We had many conversations on this matter before and after Congressman Schneider pulled his endorsement, but I want to respect the conversations that I had with Senator Biss and the campaign and keep them private,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “Unfortunately it became clear that after numerous days of conversations, we would not be able to continue together as a ticket. Ultimately, it’s his ticket and I respect his decision.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:49 am:

    Wouldn’t put it past someone as disingenuous as CRR to flip flop.

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    Better answer for Biss: “That’s in the past. We’re moving forward.”

  3. - Steve - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    Daniel Biss was quite honest here. He’s more comfortable with socialism than free market capitalism.

  4. - Perrid - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    wordslinger, people would have dinged him on that as a dodge. I know his response is long winded enough to make a lot of people’s eyes glaze over but I think he did a decent job of explaining a fairly awkward situation.

  5. - Whatever - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    If you’re explaining, you’re losing.

  6. - Periwinkle - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:02 pm:

    Sounds like a genuine answer on a tough subject.

  7. - Steve - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    He felt he had to explain himself. Don’t count him out. A big part of the Democrat party base might vote for him in the primary. He might not have a lot of money but in a divided field: don’t be shocked if he wins.

  8. - Jimmy Kimmel - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    Here’s an opportunity for Biss to show a less academic side and say, “I overlooked it, and I’m uncomfortable with his BDS stance. Bottom line. I’m moving on.” Instead he writes a novel.

  9. - slow down - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:09 pm:

    The apparent obliviousness of Ramirez-Rosa to the overt anti-semitic nature of the BDS movement is very unfortunate and doesn’t speak well of him.

    Israel absolutely imo should be under pressure to move to a two state solution, but the BDS movement is much more about the right of Israel to exist at all than it is about coexistence.

  10. - Amalia - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:10 pm:

    oh my. too much. but illuminating.

  11. - Grand Avenue - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    Has Daiber announced his running mate yet?

  12. - Anon - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:22 pm:

    Let’s be real. Carlos changes his mind and this was a big deal for both because Biss wants to be Senator and Carlos wants to be Congressman. Carlos needs to learn to play nice if he plans to ever get anything done in DC.

  13. - YSW - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    @slow down, calling the BDS movement antisemitic means saying that Palestinian people have no legitimate recourse to resist their own displacement, no nonviolent means of protesting the inequality under which they live.

    Biss’s explanation that he’s a grandson of a Holocaust survivor, as if it unavoidably follows that he must oppose the movement for Palestinian human rights, is deeply offensive to many progressive Jews in Illinois. Many of us lost family members in the Holocaust too, and we draw the opposite lesson from that legacy: me must not perpetuate oppression against anyone.

    L’shanah tovah to everyone celebrating the new year.

  14. - Commander Norton - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    I don’t think it’s too much. If he has a hope of getting past this, it’s in explaining in a genuine, lay-it-all-out-there fashion - not another glib messaging sound-bite. I’m impressed by this answer for the same reason I’m impressed with him in general; he sees nuances and is willing to admit they exist. The politics with which voters have become all too familiar is one that says you’re either for me or against me. It is so refreshing to see Biss speaking respectfully of his former running mate and acknowledging that they agreed on almost everything - and to see Ramirez-Rosa behaving in pretty much the same fashion. To me, Biss’ answer is relatable; we’ve all had tough personal decisions to make, and we’ve all had to live with the consequences while still realizing that on balance, we did what we had to do.

  15. - Bissness - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:44 pm:

    =Better answer for Biss: “That’s in the past. We’re moving forward.”=
    It could also be applied to his oath-violating legislative record.
    Heck it’s even worked on the national level for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and other malefactors.

  16. - City Zen - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    He made a bisstake.

  17. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    “Guilt by association.”

    Great, Senator Biss.

    Because you haven’t done enough to insult the Bernie Bros yet.

  18. - Teddy - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:58 pm:

    Not that I want to get sidetracked by this, but YSW, as a progressive Jew and descendant of Holocaust survivors myself, I can say that many progressive Jews disagree with you on this. The BDS movement’s co-founder has called for the destruction of Israel, saying that “no Palestinian should accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” There are nonviolent means to achieve a 2-state solution. BDS is not the right one.

    See the video here:

    In any event, I believe RR was wishy-washy at best and dishonest at worst. I found Biss’ answer sincere.

  19. - Saluki - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:58 pm:

    He bissed the mark.

  20. - Ilovebernie - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:08 pm:

    I was really excited about Biss, but cannot support him after he dumped my man Carlos. I hope Biss comes in last place so it teaches the Democratic Party not to take progressives for granted.

  21. - YSW - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:15 pm:

    Teddy, the evidence from people who know Rosa is very unfavorable to Biss’s accounting. Yes absolutely there is disagreement among Jews who consider ourselves progressive. You appear to misunderstand the meaning of that quote, however. To the extent that “a Jewish state in Palestine” means that Palestinians who have been banished from their homes must be prohibited from returning, and that Palestinians living under Israeli rule must have fewer rights than Jews, why would any Palestinian support that? There are no nonviolent means for Palestinians to achieve justice and peace absent BDS. If there was, you’d be able to name one, but you can’t.

  22. - Favorite human - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    Egypt has had peace with Israel for38 years as they negotiated seriously.

    When the PA spends upto 5% of their annual budget on payment to families of suicide bombers it’s hard to say they are serious.

    Sad truth is the PA can have peace anytime. They just aren’t ready yet, they are the ones needing pressure for a solution.

    BDS ignores those facts. That’s one reason not to take their supporters seriously.

  23. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:26 pm:

    FH, thanks for that simple solution to the Israeli/Palestinian question.

    Have a North Korean nuke “solution” that doesn’t require millions of deaths by the end of day.

  24. - Northsider - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    I’ll take Scandinavian-style democratic socialism over the Republic party’s brand of free-market capitalism any day.

    And Bernie Bros don’t get to determine who is or is not a progressive.

  25. - slow down - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:43 pm:

    YSW, I too am a progressive Jew and I fully support non-violent protests against Israel’s occupation and in support of a two state solution.

    Sadly, that is not what BDS is or has been. You are far too generous in your interpretation of the founder’s comments. His goal, and the goal of BDS, is nothing short of the destruction of the state of Israel. He’s telling us this and we should take him at his word.

    I don’t suppose we’re going to agree on this but I wish you a happy and safe new year.

  26. - walker - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:45 pm:

    Biss did explain it.
    He just didn’t explain it away.

  27. - blue dog dem - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 2:07 pm:

    I always felt ‘active progressive’ was the same as socialist.

  28. - low level - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    The trouble, Alderman, is your insistence that there is any “occupation”. Given numerous opportunities to make peace, certain groups refuse to do so and commit atrocities against unarmed civilians.

    Now for the idea that a second state would insure peace. A virtual state was created known as the Palestinian Authority. They were unable to stop the violence. Given that, do you really feel a full fledged state would bring peace?

    Your assumptions are incorrect.

  29. - Ron - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    Biss should drop out. The initial pick of Ramirez-Rosa tells me how bad a candidate he is.

  30. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 5:02 pm:

    === There are no nonviolent means for Palestinians to achieve justice and peace absent BDS. If there was, you’d be able to name one, but you can’t. ===

    How about if the Palestinians put down their arms, recognized the right of Israel to exist, and accepted a third-party negotiated country of their own which they have turned down time and time again? So far they have done none of those.

  31. - Responsa - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 7:12 pm:

    ==BISS: So, Illinois only in the last two election cycles governor/lieutenant governor—==
    ==So, I read the organization’s platform and there’s an awful lot there—==

    Sometime over the last decade the use of “so” to start a sentence has become common practice for many politicians and other interviewees on TV shows and such. It’s grating and annoying to listeners and is a completely unnecessary, meaningless filler. It makes them sound like valley girls. Not to pick just on Biss. They all should stop it.

  32. - Anon III - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 7:13 pm:

    It goes almost without saying that there is a spectrum of policy positions within the Democratic Party.

    The Illinois Associations of and for every interest group and profession that works with or for government, and the government employee unions are endorsing moneyed centrist democratic candidates. If the primary were a two-man race, a centrist candidate would prevail. But it’s not a two-man race.

    Biss is obviously positioning himself to the left of the moneyed centrist candidates. He could win a three-man or four-man primary.

  33. - cc - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 1:51 am:

    Close family members are Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, Mennonite, and some are agnostics and total athiests and I love them all. I want a leader that cares for all, does best for the whole state from north, south, east and west borders, puts Illinois above all others and cares not only for the billionaires but also and mostly for the least of us.

  34. - CatAttack - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 9:13 am:

    Biss picked Rosa because he thought he’d help beat Pawar. Biss isn’t running against anyone else, let’s be honest. Rosa doesn’t help against Pritzker, and he certainly doesn’t help against Rauner.

    Biss wanted to be seen as the only progressive in the race so he overlooked some things that clearly he shouldn’t have. Problem is, he’s not actually all that progressive, so is trying to force himself into that mold (all the apologizing for past “mistakes” on votes and taking Madigan money, and such.)

    Not a great look for a wannabe leader.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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