PAWAR OUT­AGE

Al­der­man ex­its gover­nor’s race: ‘ I don’t have the wealth or con­nec­tions to keep go­ing’

Chicago Sun-Times - - POLITICS - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN AND TINA SFONDELES Staff Re­porters

Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar ( 47th) has dropped out of the gover­nor’s race, say­ing he sim­ply doesn’t have the money to com­pete statewide against wealthy com­peti­tors.

“We raised $ 828,000 from 2,600 donors. But we don’t have enough money to mean­ing­fully scale our cam­paign,” Pawar told the Chicago Sun- Times af­ter an­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion in an email to sup­port­ers.

“I had two op­tions: Cut staff, which is not an op­tion or, two, take on per­sonal debt, and I’m not wealthy. I’m sorry for the peo­ple who sup­ported me that I don’t have the wealth or con­nec­tions to keep go­ing.”

Spec­u­la­tion abounds that Pawar’s now- de­funct pop­ulist cam­paign for gover­nor could be a pre­lude to a 2019 race for mayor against in­cum­bent Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“Pol­i­tics to­day is very fluid. It’s un­pre­dictable. You never know. . . . I’m never gonna say no. There’s al­ways a chance. But I lit­er­ally just got off the road af­ter 10 months. It’s been re­ally hard on all of us. It took a lot of sac­ri­fice by my fam­ily,” he said.

“I’m not rul­ing any­thing out. I just don’t want to talk about an­other of­fice or an­other race to­day or any­time in the near fu­ture. But I can tell you I’m not done in pol­i­tics. I’m sure that I will run again.”

A nat­u­ral al­ter­na­tive for sup­port­ers of Pawar’s pop­ulist cam­paign is pro­gres­sive state Sen. Daniel Biss, DE­vanston. But Pawar said he is not pre­pared to en­dorse any of his op­po­nents “at this time.”

Pawar knew when he got into the gover­nor’s race that he would be up against a lot of money in the Demo­cratic pri­mary; bil­lion­aire J. B. Pritzker and mil­lion­aire Chris Kennedy also are seek­ing the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion.

But what he didn’t know and had to learn the hard way was just how tough it would be to raise enough money to be com­pet­i­tive in a statewide cam­paign.

In his email, Pawar noted that “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.”

Pawar, 37, said he was start­ing a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee, called One Illi­nois, to or­ga­nize young peo­ple around pro­gres­sive causes.

“I hope to see the other cam­paigns start­ing to talk about mass com­mu­ta­tions for low- level, non­vi­o­lent drug of­fend­ers. I’m hop­ing that they start talk­ing about a mas­sive cap­i­tal plan that fo­cuses on the South and West sides of Chicago, East St. Louis and Cairo. Those are the is­sues I’m gonna be go­ing out there and talk­ing about. And we’ll see what hap­pens,” he told the Sun- Times.

Young, gutsy and smart, Pawar knows city is­sues af­ter two terms on the City Coun­cil. He led the drive for tax in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing re­form, manda­tory sick days and a coun­cil bud­get an­a­lyst. He even pushed to cut the Coun­cil in half.

Pawar, whose par­ents came from In­dia in the 1970s, can’t be un­der­es­ti­mated. He won his first term at age 30 in an up­set against a can­di­date hand­picked by re­tir­ing Ald. Eu­gene Schul­ter. Pawar then won re- elec­tion in 2015 with 83 per­cent of the vote.

On Thurs­day, Pawar said he has no in­ten­tion of run­ning for a third term and vi­o­lat­ing his self- im­posed two- term limit.

“I’M NOT RUL­ING ANY­THING OUT. I JUST DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT AN­OTHER OF­FICE OR AN­OTHER RACE TO­DAY OR ANY­TIME IN THE NEAR FU­TURE. BUT I CAN TELL YOU I’M NOT DONE IN POL­I­TICS. I’M SURE THAT I WILL RUN AGAIN.” ALD. AMEYA PAWAR

ASH­LEE REZIN/ SUN- TIMES

Ald. Ameya Pawar ( 47th) speaks be­fore a fo­rum on Sun­day.

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