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Biss starting to get questions about his voting history

Monday, Sep 25, 2017

* WGN TV’s Tahman Bradley interviewed state Sen. Daniel Biss and his running mate the other day. Here’s a partial transcript

BRADLEY: State Senator Daniel Biss of Evanston is running for Illinois governor with State Rep. Litesa Wallace of Rockford.

She was not his first choice. Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa was Biss’s first running mate, but Biss dropped Ramirez-Rosa after just six days over differences involving Israel.

Ramirez-Rosa backs the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as BDS, which calls for international pressure on Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank. Biss, who is Jewish, strongly opposes BDS.

Did you not vet Ramirez-Rosa?

BISS: Well, actually, I would disagree with that characterization of the video you’re talking about. I think it’s quite unclear.

BRADLEY: This is the video in question.

CARLOS RAMIREZ-ROSA: For too long, the US government has subsidized the oppression of the Palestinian people.

BRALEY: But Ramirez-Rosa backs the Democratic Socialists of America, which has endorsed BDS. Biss said the men talked about Ramirez-Rosa’s position.

BISS: He and I had a series of discussions before he joined the ticket and we had an understanding at that time, and that understanding has changed.

BRADLEY: It was a major misstep for a candidate who is trying to appeal to the left.

BISS: It’s a campaign about Medicare for all, it’s a campaign about a $15 minimum wage, it’s a campaign about college affordability, it’s a campaign about tax fairness.

BRADLEY: During his tenure in Springfield, Biss has cast difficult votes, some at odds with progressives.

You voted for Medicaid reform, cutting $1.6 billion. You voted for SB 1556, to strip some public employees of collective bargaining. You voted for increasing charter school funding. You voted for the Exelon subsidy. Those are not progressive positions.

BISS: Well the last bill you mentioned, for example, is a bill that is one of the most significant expansions of clean energy in the history of this state. Listen, during my time during the course of the legislature, we’ve had a series of difficult budgetary situations that have resulted in a lot of painful choices.

Biss was right to point to the Exelon bill as a whole. But he did vote for those other bills, not to mention pension reform.

* The full WGN video is here. The exchange above is here

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments
  1. - Arsenal - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 10:23 am:

    It was probably inevitable? Biss has been a good and thoughtful legislator, but not a “Never Say Die!” liberal. Refashioning him into one, whether he’s doing it or it’s a role foisted on him, was likely to produce an awkward transition phase.


  2. - Periwinkle - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 10:36 am:

    No one with the legislative experience to be governor will have a voting record that satisfies everyone. The other candidates avoid this problem by simply being unqualified for the job.


  3. - lake county democrat - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    Normally it would be to Biss credit that he has some divergence from anyone’s ideological line - any thinking person should. Where Biss can be justly condemned is a lip-service record on reform and challenging positions of the Speaker. Biss is a useful tool for Madigan as he helps split the progressive anti-Madigan vote and ease the way for JB.


  4. - Honeybear - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 10:56 am:

    Not to mention SB1 pension reform to mangle Union public sector pensions.

    He is not a progressive.
    His perfidy
    Is cloaking himself as one.
    Same thing Rauner did when he was running.
    “No social agenda”
    Or not running on union busting
    Wearing a carhardt

    Don’t be perfidious Sen Biss


  5. - honeybadger - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    Let’s hope WGN TV sends Tahman Bradley to interview Governor Rauner and ask him the questions everyone seems afraid to ask.


  6. - dbk - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    –You voted for Medicaid reform, cutting $1.6 billion. You voted for SB 1556, to strip some public employees of collective bargaining. You voted for increasing charter school funding.–

    None of these are progressive or even liberal positions, they are “neoliberal” positions.

    I don’t get it - he says he’s a progressive? On the grounds of being pro-identity politics?


  7. - David - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    I don’t know how thoughtful or qualified since he could not understand the class meaning of the Constitution.


  8. - Truthteller - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:09 am:

    Some candidates run on their records, some run from them. Biss is in the latter category.
    The votes cited were tough. They involved bucking Madigan’s and Cullerton. If he didn’t do it as a legislator, he isn’t likely as governor. Anyone who is looking for a progressive candidate should look elsewhere


  9. - Professor - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:11 am:

    Biss is floundering. A poorly run campaign. He has some good qualities and could have emerged as an alternative to big money but I’m afraid he is toast. Still time to run for reelection.


  10. - Responsa - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    ==I’m afraid he is toast==

    I am surprised it has become evident this early on because I honestly thought he’d be better at this. But I agree. It going to come down to Kennedy and JB to duke it out for the Dems.


  11. - Arsenal - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:34 am:

    ==I am surprised it has become evident this early on because I honestly thought he’d be better at this.==

    I thought he was doing a pretty good job until Rosa-palooza. But that wrong-footed him big time and opened the door for people to ask if he’s really as progressive as he wants to claim.


  12. - LilLebowskiUrbanAchiever - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 12:43 pm:

    Devastating piece. I’m sure he agreed to the interview thinking it would generate some good earned media. Instead it:
    - Reminded everyone about the Carlos Rosa debacle
    - Rightfully challenged his credentials as a progressive (which is the central argument to his campaign)
    - And made him sound defensive and whiny

    This is all on top of awful advance work that has him against a white wall in a weirdly lit room.

    This campaign is clearly taking a toll on him. He look incredibly frustrated in his announcement video with Rep. Wallace. I’m not sure why he would stay in the race at this point.


  13. - lake county democrat - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 12:49 pm:

    Are there any progressives talking about a progressive income tax rather than a probably counterproductive $15/hour min wage (min wage needs to be hiked, but not that much) and pie-in-sky like a state Medicare for All plan? Yes, I know it requires amending the state constitution, but how can a progressive stay silent in the face of a functionally regressive revenue system?


  14. - Bissle - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    His voting record shows he can’t be trusted. He says he’s “progressive” but his history is hard right conservative against workers.


  15. - JoeMaddon - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    Lake County Dem - are you paying attention? Biss has made a progressive income tax the focal point of his campaign, and Pawar has been strongly pushing it as well. Kennedy and Pritzker don’t talk about it as much, but have both said they support it and it should be part of the solution.


  16. - City Zen - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 4:46 pm:

    ==Are there any progressives talking about a progressive income tax…==

    If it doesn’t also include equal treatment of retirement income, it will be regressive.


  17. - blue dog dem - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 10:01 pm:

    Biss, like Kennedy,Pawar and Prizer, all really know there will be no progressive income tax. Its just campaign rhetoric. As usual.


  18. - Pat Moriarty - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:00 pm:

    I appreciate how Daniel is redefining what it means to be progressive. Times have changed, priorities have changed, and the sinking state of Illinois finances require we relook at the labels we give ourselves. Daniel Biss is far and away the most enlighten candidate running for Governor


  19. - Teddy - Monday, Sep 25, 17 @ 11:01 pm:

    Ah the “progressive” purity circular firing squad. You can’t avoid it unless you’re so inflexible you’re guaranteed to get nothing done.

    Biss has been a good legislator who made some tough decisions so government could work. I’ll take that over a billionaire and a dynasty who’ve never held elected office in their lives.


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