Editorial | For the Democrats: Chris Kennedy

Editorial | For the Democrats: Chris Kennedy

The race for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination is wide open.

Whatever one's political party or perspective, it's impossible to deny the fact that the state of Illinois is in deep trouble — the result of years of fiscal chicanery overseen by politicians of both parties who were oblivious to the consequences of their actions.

As the March 20 primary approaches, the question facing Democratic and Republican primary voters is which candidate in their party is best suited to lead a comeback that will be, at best, hugely difficult or, at worst, borderline impossible.

Of course, it takes more than a good governor to lead the way. Equally important is the Legislature, a separate and co-equal branch of government.

As demonstrated by the past three years, if the General Assembly is intransigent, nothing of importance can or will get done.

But first things first.

Chicago businessman and former University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Kennedy is a relatively easy choice to make among a crowded Democratic field that features three leading candidates — Kennedy, billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker and state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston.

Pritzker is the favored candidate of party leaders, virtually all of whom fell in line after Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan made it clear that he wanted Pritzker to self-finance his race for governor, allowing Madigan to use his many millions in campaign contributions to re-elect an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature.

Pritzker obviously chose his parents well, but he's established himself as a businessman of some repute. Nonetheless, when it comes to politics, he gives the impression of a candidate who's running to become something rather than do something.

Whether he's on the telephone with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich groveling for appointment to what he hoped would be a vacant state treasurer's post or toadying for Madigan in his quest to become governor, Pritzker comes across as a hollow man with a passing interest in issues and a surpassing interest in fulfilling his ambition to be more than just another billionaire.

His utter refusal to say a single negative word about the leadership of Madigan, perhaps the most destructive political force in the state's history, speaks volumes about his unwillingness to deviate from the past of business as usual. That devotion to self-interest, rather than the public interest, is a long-standing practice that has served the insiders well but driven the state into a ditch.

If Pritzker can't find a harsh word to describe Madigan's impact on Illinois, how can he possibly make the tough decisions needed to take the state off the critical list?

Biss, the Evanston liberal, is the second-leading candidate, one who could take the nomination if he gets all of his ducks in a row.

He's vying for the hardcore-leftist vote represented by former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist senator from Vermont.

In a race as wide open as this, Biss might well come out on top. Unfortunately, during this campaign, Biss has dispensed with his reputation as a thoughtful liberal willing to make hard choices to address tough problems and adopted a populist approach that promises everything for everyone. He says he'll pay for it with a progressive income tax applied to "millionaires and billionaires."

What Biss wants to do would be difficult if Illinois was financially prosperous. With the state effectively bankrupt and people feeling overtaxed and, as a result, moving out, it's well nigh impossible.

Biss deserves respect for not shying away from his differences with Madigan in this campaign. But he's cozied up to the speaker in the past.

In this field, Kennedy is the superior candidate.

Liberal voters who want a liberal governor will have no complaints with his approach to the issues. At the same time, he's made it clear that he has no use for the Democratic insiders who've enriched themselves through their political connections. That includes people like Madigan, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios and many others known and unknown by the people of Illinois.

Kennedy, a scion of the political family, has emphasized economic development and improved educational opportunities for the people and children of Illinois.

All the candidates cite those issues, and they mean it — to one degree or another.

Kennedy seems particularly sincere about education. But achieving his goals will never happen unless he or others create a business atmosphere that provides the kind of job opportunities — and tax revenues — that sustain a strong and growing middle class.

Illinois has benefited from an improving national economy, but it still trails its neighboring states in most important categories.

If statistics are not enough to persuade skeptics, Illinois residents are voting with their feet — moving elsewhere in search of a better lot of life.

That cannot be allowed to stand. Unfortunately, the General Assembly has shown no interest in the change necessary to boost the state's economy.

Perhaps, if elected, Kennedy could prevail on party members to get serious about fixing what ails us.

There's no use pretending The News-Gazette sees eye to eye with Kennedy on every issue. Our philosophical differences are vast. Nonetheless, he's a sincere advocate for his causes and would be a strong candidate in the fall election.

For those reasons and others, Kennedy is the best candidate to represent his party in the fall election.

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Mr Dreamy wrote on February 25, 2018 at 8:02 am

“There's no use pretending The News-Gazette sees eye to eye with Kennedy on every issue. Our philosophical differences are vast.”

Its no surprise the NG endorses Kennedy, at the same time the most conservative Democrat running AND the most likely to lose to Rauner or Ives.

Same old same old from the antique NG.