Chicago Sun-Times - - POLITICS CITYBEAT - BYMITCH DUDEK Staff Re­porter Email: mdudek@sun­ Twit­ter: @MitchDudek

State Sen. Daniel Biss kicked off his run for gov­er­nor on Mon­day, tak­ing shots at two of the most un­pop­u­lar politi­cians in Illi­nois — Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Rauner and Demo­cratic House Speaker Mike Madigan.

The Evanston Demo­crat is en­ter­ing an in­creas­ingly crowded pri­mary field, but he is the first of his party’s ma­jor can­di­dates to go after the pow­er­ful South­west Demo­crat.

“Lis­ten, I’ve been clear for a long time that Madigan has been there too long,” Biss said at one point, adding that he has fa­vored term lim­its in the past.

Biss also said he’s not fo­cused on one per­son — be it Madigan or Rauner — but aims to change a sys­tem that caters to the wealthy and ma­chine politi­cians.

Biss made his an­nounce­ment on Face­book Live, then re­sponded to ques­tions and com­ments from the on­line au­di­ence.

The words “bil­lion­aires” and “ma­chine politi­cians” were two of the most com­mon Biss used dur­ing his 24- minute an­nounce­ment — as he sought to dis­tance him­self from both.

“I’m not a mil­lion­aire or part of any po­lit­i­cal ma­chine,” the math­e­ma­ti­cian said in an emailed ver­sion of his an­nounce­ment.

Polling re­in­forces Biss’ strat­egy. Three out of five vot­ers had a neg­a­tive opin­ion of Rauner’s and Madigan’s job per­for­mance in a Paul Si­mon Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute poll re­leased last week.

But the jabs at the wealthy were likely di­rected not just at Rauner, but at two fel­low Democrats: Busi­ness­man Chris Kennedy, who has al­ready launched his gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign, and J. B. Pritzker, a bil­lion­aire ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist who has es­tab­lished an ex­ploratory com­mit­tee.

Like Rauner, Kennedy and Pritzker have pock­ets deep enough to self fi­nance their cam­paigns.

The Illi­nois Repub­li­can Party fo­cused its crit­i­cism of Biss on his anti- ma­chine claims, is­su­ing a re­lease call­ing him a “Madigan ac­com­plice.”

“Don’t let his ex­te­rior fool you, Daniel Biss is the North Shore branch of the Madigan ma­chine,” the party news re­lease said.

“Biss has taken over $ 260,000 in Madigan money, sup­ported Madigan for speaker and voted for bil­lions in un­bal­anced Madigan spend­ing,” the state­ment con­tin­ued. “Daniel Biss is a will­ing Mike Madigan ac­com­plice who would give the gov­er­nor’s of­fice back to the Chicago ma­chine.”

Other Face­book ques­tions dealt with school fund­ing; Biss said it was time to “fi­nally ask the rich­est Illi­nois res­i­dents to pay their share for a fair and just ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.”

Biss be­comes the fifth an­nounced Demo­cratic chal­lenger to Rauner in his 2018 re- elec­tion cam­paign. Biss joins a field that al­ready in­cludes: Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar ( 47th); Kennedy; Bob Daiber, a su­per­in­ten­dent of schools in Madi­son County; and busi­ness owner Alex Pat­er­akis.

Pritzker formed his ex­ploratory com­mit­tee last week and is still mulling whether to of­fi­cially en­ter the race.

“It’s time to start solv­ing prob­lems,” Biss said Mon­day. “This is a cam­paign for the rest of us.”

Biss helped to raise $ 10 mil­lion to run anti- Rauner ads be­fore the Novem­ber elec­tion. He lives in Evanston and rep­re­sents the 9th Dis­trict in the Illi­nois Se­nate; he pre­vi­ously served one term in the Illi­nois House, rep­re­sent­ing the 17th Dis­trict. He grew up in Bloom­ing­ton, In­di­ana, and moved to Chicago after ob­tain­ing his bach­e­lor’s de­gree at Har­vard Univer­sity and a Ph. D. in math­e­mat­ics at the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, be­fore join­ing the Univer­sity of Chicago’s math­e­mat­ics fac­ulty at 25.

He has said that while teach­ing, his de­sire to con­front Illi­nois’ most crit­i­cal prob­lems com­pelled him to get more in­volved in his com­mu­nity, first as an or­ga­nizer, and later as an elected of­fi­cial. He and his wife, Karin, have two chil­dren.


State Sen. Daniel Biss, D- Evanston, an­nounced his can­di­dacy for gov­er­nor on Face­book Live Mon­day morn­ing.

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