He’ll be running against a Kennedy and a Chicago alderman
By CARL GREEN
Collinsville, IL – Illinois Democrats now know they will have a choice to make about a candidate to oppose Governor Bruce Rauner in the 2018 election.
The two candidates who have announced this month couldn’t be more different. Think in terms of David and Goliath, perhaps.
One is no less than a bona fide Kennedy – Chris Kennedy, that is, the son of Bobby Kennedy, and now a successful Chicago businessman and Democratic activist.
The other is well-known to Metro East Democrats, educators and unionists, but he doesn’t have that famous name. Bob Daiber, that is, the Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools, longtime high school teacher and strong Labor supporter known for encouraging school districts to complete projects using Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).
They join Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar, who announced he would run on Jan. 3. Chris Kennedy announced Feb. 8 that he is in the race.
Daiber, 60, of Marine, revealed his plans on Thursday, Feb. 9 to the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council, and made his official announcement on Monday, Feb. 13 in Edwardsville.
PATH TO VICTORY
Daiber sees his potential to win the nomination through strength in Democratic strongholds such as the Metro East and south Chicago.
“I’ll carry Madison and St. Clair counties, I’ll carry the south side of Chicago, I’ll carry three other major counties, and I’ll become the first gubernatorial candidate from Southern Illinois since Glenn Poshard, 20 years ago,” Daiber told the Council.
“I’m in this thing 110 percent; we’re working each and every day,” he added. “I want to thank you for helping me be able to run for governor. You don’t just get up and decide you’re going to do that.”
Daiber has been a familiar name to area Democrats since the 1990s, when he ran twice for 110th District state representative against Republican Ron Stephens. In 1992, he lost by only 259 votes, but the margin grew in 1994.
Daiber spent 29 years teaching at Triad High School, becoming careers/technology director and leaving in 2007 when he was appointed regional superintendent to replace Harry Briggs. Along the way, Daiber served as Marine Township supervisor and on the Marine Village Board, and was elected to two terms on the Madison County Board. He graduated from Eastern Illinois University and earned his doctorate at SIU Edwardsville. He still farms in Alhambra Township.
As he campaigns, Daiber will emphasize his opposition to so-called “right-to-work” laws that let non-union members freeload on union representation without paying dues.
“I’m going to pledge that I will not sign right-to-work legislation in the state of Illinois,” he said. “It will not happen here if I’m elected.”
Daiber told the Council members that even if not all of them can endorse his candidacy, he will continue to help their cause however he can.
“It doesn’t matter, because whether you endorse me or whether you support me, if I’m elected, it will be the way it has always been with me,” he said. “What I’ve told you today is a sealed deal. In the 10 years I’ve held county-wide office, all the work has had PLAs – it’s all union work. I’ve produced thousands of man-hours of work for many of you every year. I think that I could do more for you.”
Daiber said he decided to run after spending four days earlier in the week on a pre-announcement campaign swing, gauging his strength in south Chicago.
“There was a big gala there, probably 1,400 people,” he said. “I worked that room thoroughly, and the guy who announced yesterday wasn’t there.”
That guy, of course, was Chris Kennedy, a resident of Kenilworth who managed a real estate company that owned the famed Merchandise Mart. He now runs a hunger relief non-profit group with his wife.
Kennedy gained some notice at last year’s Democratic National Convention, where he bashed Rauner for inflicting “suffering and chaos” and forcing the budget stalemate that has continued since Rauner took office.
In announcing his candidacy, Kennedy called for “fundamental change” in state government.
“I moved to Illinois 30 years ago with an enthusiasm for business and a commitment to service,” he said. “I love Illinois, but we have never been in worse shape. We don’t need incremental improvement; we need fundamental change in state government. By working together to achieve results for Illinois families, I believe we can restore the American dream in our state within a generation.”
THAT OTHER GUY
Ameya Pawar is Chicago’s 47th Ward alderman and an unabashed liberal who wants to target income inequality.
“I am running because we’ve gotten to a point in this country where wealth worship is the only qualifier for public office, trumping public policy,” he said in an interview. “Chopping benefits or declaring strategic bankruptcy or selling companies off in pieces for profit are somehow seen as the secret ingredients for an Illinois utopia.”
Pawar noted he has a $50,000 campaign war chest to go up against the $50 million Rauner recently donated to himself.
Daiber was last re-elected, without opposition, in the 2014 general election. In Illinois, the regional superintendent serves as a liaison between public schools and the State Board of Education. The office supervises school boards, disburses state funds, examines district financial records and maintains records and reports. It also administers teacher examinations, the GED equivalency test and constitution tests.