URBANA — The former director of an anti-violence group in Chicago said he wants to be an alternative for Illinois Democrats who can't support Gov. Pat Quinn for another term.
"Pat Quinn has had six years to straighten things out in the state here, and his leadership has failed," said Tio Hardiman, the former director of CeaseFire Illinois. "We still have a looming pension crisis that is costing the state $5 million a day. It's a $100 billion crisis. We're No. 2 in unemployment at 9.2 percent, right behind Nevada, and the deficit is still high. Pat Quinn has had a chance and he's a Democrat. The House is led by Democrats, and the Senate. And there's still too much infighting."
Hardiman, 50, campaigned Friday on the University of Illinois campus, calling himself "a proven problem-solver."
"I plan to walk around shake hands and meet and greet," he said.
Hardiman didn't avoid the issue that has dogged his struggling campaign: his arrest in May for allegedly punching and kicking his 47-year-old wife. After the arrest, CeaseFire announced that his contract would not be renewed.
"You can never measure my personal issue with the condition of the state of Illinois," Hardiman said. "We have 500,000 homes in foreclosure here. We have a pension crisis that's going to cause a major catastrophe here in the state of Illinois if we don't come up with any kind of bona fide solution."
Hardiman said the domestic battery charge was dropped and he is back with his wife, although he is unemployed.
"I'm pretty sure people will bring it up. My wife and I, we have reconciled. We have been together ever since then," he said. "So we've straightened our lives out; now we're going to straighten out Illinois."
Hardiman said he intended to run for governor even before he lost his CeaseFire job.
"I didn't wake up overnight to run for governor. I've been thinking about running for governor for the last four years, and this is a perfect time because Quinn's approval rating is at an all-time low," he said. "I come from the community. I understand what working-class people are going through."
Fundraising, he admitted, "is kinda tough right now."
He has not filed a campaign disclosure report with the Illinois State Board of Elections, an indication that his campaign has not reached the $5,000 threshold when reports must be filed.
"The people of Illinois need to look beyond a person who has a lot of money in their campaign account because right now the people with money are messing the state up," Hardiman said.
"The state is going broke. We're slowly slipping into a big sinkhole here and you need someone like myself. I plan to raise some money, without a doubt, but I don't want my campaign to be known as a big-money campaign. The Tio Hardiman campaign to become governor of the state of Illinois is going to be the people's campaign."