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Ald. Ameya Pawar Drops Out Of Governor's Race: 'We Simply Don't Have The Money'

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 12, 2017 5:20PM

Alderman Ameya Pawar speaks at a rally against the National Rifle Association and gun violence in Federal Plaza. Photo by Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) announced on Thursday that he has dropped out of the governor's race.

Pawar, who had run as a progressive alternative to much more heavily financed front-runners, said the campaign lacked sufficient funds to significantly maintain a full-state effort.

He said in his announcement:

"[W]e simply don’t have the money to meaningfully scale this campaign statewide. Without more resources, the only choices for expanding the campaign to a scope that could earn the nomination were to take on more personal debt or to cut staff. I have a young family, and we decided not to take on more personal debt right now. As to cutting staff, I simply refuse. We raised $828k from 2,526 donors; that is amazing. But as you know, the race for Illinois governor will set a record as the costliest race in American history. For democracy’s sake, I hope we see this as a troubling trend. My donors did the best they could, I’m the one who came up short, but I am not ashamed. Just know that while we didn’t have the most money, we have the volunteers (3,200), the signatures (10,000), and the right message. I’m sorry for the people who have stood with me that I don’t have the extraordinary wealth or extraordinarily wealthy connections to make up the difference."

Money does indeed already seem poised to play a significant role in the campaigns ahead. Governor Bruce Rauner donated $50 million from his deep pockets to his own re-election bid in December; and Democratic candidate JB Pritzker, a billionaire investor, has pumped some $28 million of his money into his bid, according to Illinois Sunshine.

In his statement, Pawar, 37, also announced the launch of a new political action committee, called One Illinois, that intends to organize young people for progressive causes "and fight the false and bigoted divides around race, class, and geography." He said the organization will release more information in the weeks to come.

Pawar declined to offer an endorsement for any of the remaining gubernatorial candidates in the Democratic field. State Senator Daniel Biss would seemingly be the most aligned with Pawar's agenda, but Biss also ruffled plenty of progressive feathers when he dismissed Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa from his ticket over his stance on policy related to Israel. Other Democratic candidates still in the mix include Bob Daiber, perennial runner Tio Hardiman and Chris Kennedy.

Pawar was elected alderman in 2011 when he handily defeated the heavily-favored Tommy O’Donnell, despite the fact his opponent had the support of Rahm Emanuel and the political establishment. One can't help but wonder if he really has his eyes on a mayoral bid now—which has long been circled about the political rumor mill.