CHICAGO (CBS) – A big political name is now in the race for Illinois governor.
Democrat Chris Kennedy – businessman son of the late Robert Kennedy and nephew of John F. Kennedy – on Wednesday announced he will run in a field that already has one declared candidate.
It is the Kenilworth resident’s first run at an elected office, but as CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, Chris Kennedy says he’s ready for the job.
“I have a long track record in both business and on the verge of politics as well, and the intersection of where our economy and where our government meet,” he says.
Kennedy announced his candidacy with a YouTube video in which he says the current administration of Republican Bruce Rauner is failing Illinois residents.
The Illinois Republican Party responded with a press release calling Kennedy a “Mike Madigan-First Politician” and launching the website madigankennedy.com. Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, is Illinois House Speaker and bitter political enemies with Rauner.
“We’re looking at a candidate who holds Mike Madigan’s policies and practices before those of the people of Illinois,” Tim Schneider, state GOP chairman, says.
Kennedy counters: “I think that’s really an insult to the voters of Illinois. They’re going to recognize that there’s enormous independence within the Democratic Party. The Republican Party, on the other hand, has been shut down by Gov. Rauner.”
Rauner, who recently infused his campaign coffers with millions for his upcoming re-election bid, shrugged off Kennedy’s announcement. He says he’s focused on getting a budget deal passed in Springfield with the help of Democratic lawmakers.
“I’m focused on that and really not paying attention to politics,” he says.
Kennedy says his top priorities would be education, healthcare, capital improvements and jobs, but he knows he’ll have to tackle the state’s financial mess, too.
“Unless we have a balanced budget, unless the government is functioning properly, we’ll continue to create chaos, which is the enemy of business development,” he says.
Kennedy is the second Democrat to announce a run for governor. Last month, Chicago 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar threw his hat into the race.
Wednesday, J.B. Pritzker released a statement saying he “seriously considering running for governor.”