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Ald. Ameya Pawar Might Be Running For Governor In 2018

By Stephen Gossett in News on Nov 29, 2016 5:12PM

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) / Facebook

We’re still two years away, but speculation is nonetheless running rampant over who the Democrats will put forth as candidate for governor in 2018. Now comes word that a Chicago-based dark-horse candidate—with a history of dark-horse upsets—could be making a move for Springfield: Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th Ward).

The North Side alderman told Politico he is considering a run, despite, for the moment anyway, a sizable gap in funds compared to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who, of course, spent huge and earned huger this past campaign cycle. (Politico notes that Pawar right now has $58,000 in the coffers.)

He does have a history of upset victories: he steamrolled the heavily favored Tommy O’Donnell in 2011 to win his aldermanic seat. And he’d certainly need some of that unlikely outsider pull to win over voters downstate—who tend to look upon Chicago, shall we say, unfavorably—in a general gubernatorial race.

Pawar told Poltiico he’d focus on bridging the divisiveness that has become second nature in the state’s super-high-dollar campaigns.

“We've had a set of politics pitting one group of people against another. I don't think that's productive,” he said. “I think it's time we have a progressive campaign for governor.”

Pawar didn’t give a date or specific timetable, but it sounds like he’ll be letting us know sooner than later.

“I'm not ready to say I'm in, but I'm close. I feel I have to do my part and I have to stand up to the politics that are driving people apart,” he said. “I think that what we're missing is statesmanship.”

Ever since Sen. Dick Durbin announced he’d remain minority whip, roughly a week after the election, effectively putting the kibosh on a run for governor, speculation has tended to circle around familiar names like Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, State Treasurer Michael Ferichs, and businessman Christopher Kennedy. Whether or not Pawar actually jumps in, it’s exciting to see fresh blood as potential.