Chris Kennedy, Son Of RFK, Announces He's Running For Governor
By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Feb 8, 2017 5:40PM
Chris Kennedy (YouTube)
Chris Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, announced he was running for governor of Illinois on Wednesday. In a campaign video announcing his candidacy for 2018, he takes a swipe at a state government headed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The political ad leads off with headlines about the state's never-ending budget crisis, and how it's affected the economy, social services and the mood of the state. "There's growing despair, there's bewilderment, the state needs change," Kennedy says. He adds, "Compromise is not a surrender."
Kennedy grew up in Boston, but has spent most of his life in Chicago as a businessman. He was the longtime head of the Merchandise Mart until 2012. He was also on the board of trustees for the University of Illinois. Most recently, he started the nonprofit TopBox, which brings discounted groceries to food deserts.
Like others in his bloodline, he's always been involved in politics, and he helped fundraise for Barack Obama when he was running for the senate. He has yet to hold elected office, but he's flirted with the idea of running for governor and U.S. Senate for some time. Last July, reporters were whipped up into a frenzy wondering if he was going to challenge Rauner.
"Today I am announcing my run for governor because I love Illinois," Kennedy said in a statement. "But we have never been in worse shape. We don't need incremental improvement. We need fundamental change in state government."
Rauner is expected to run for reelection. Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar also announced his candidacy, in early January.
Update, 1:00 p.m.
Seemingly not wanting to be left out, billionaire JB Pritzker released a statement reminding people he is also "seriously considering running for Governor." "I’ve listened to people throughout Illinois, and it’s clear that our government isn’t working effectively for them," Pritzker said in a statement published by Capitol Fax. "Governor Rauner has failed to address the real needs and concerns facing our state. We need a new leader with a record of getting results, who wakes up every day thinking about improving the lives of working families and people all across Illinois.”
While Pritzker has not formally thrown his hat into the ring, rumors have been circulating for some time about a potential run, making the 2018 gubernatorial democratic primary already feel pretty crowded.
Update, 1:30 p.m.
Both the Illinois Republican Party and Governor Rauner's campaign weighed in as well, making Wednesday perhaps the official kick off of the 2018 gubernatorial election cycle.
"We’re here to tell you that Illinois deserves better," Rauner's campaign wrote in a fundraising email. "Why? Because Chris Kennedy is a pawn of Mike Madigan. Kennedy secretly met with Mike Madigan to get his seal of approval before announcing his candidacy. And now he wants to do Madigan’s bidding."
Meanwhile, the Illinois GOP devoted a section of it's "Boss Madigan" website to Kennedy, accusing him of secretly meeting with Speaker of the House Mike Madigan to "get his blessing to run for governor." "The last thing Illinois needs is a Madigan lap dog in the governor’s office," says the page, which also features a faux rap video of Madigan, because Republicans seem to be unable to quit using things that weren't funny in the 90's.
"Drop the Mike"