Cook County Democrats hold forum with gubernatorial candidates

Sarah Schulte Image
Monday, March 27, 2017
Cook Co. Democrats hold forum with gubernatorial candidates
On Monday, Cook County Democrats held their first-ever forum for candidates in the race for Illinois governor.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Monday, Cook County Democrats held their first-ever forum for candidates in the race for Illinois governor.

One decision the party must make is whether or not to slate one candidate to take on Governor Bruce Rauner in next year's election.

In the dark back room of a River North steak restaurant, Democrats running for governor got a chance to pitch their own party. History has shown the Cook County Democrats' endorsement is a must to win.

But, are any of the candidates willing to step aside if the party slates a candidate before the primary? Candidate Chris Kennedy is not.

"What are we talking about here in the back room of a restaurant, you think people of the United States could put up with that. Ain't gonna happen. I love you all - no disrespect - the last thing you want to do is that," Kennedy said.

Kennedy says calls "slating" an antiquated form of politics. But don't tell that to Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios.

"Don't take us for granted, we deliver votes," Berrios said.

Downstate candidate Bob Daiber knows he likely won't get the county's endorsement, but he says he can deliver votes in parts of the state that voted for Rauner.

"My challenge is to get a percentage out of Cook County and I will carry the rest of the state," Daiber said.

Chicago Alderman Ameya Pewar's challenge is to get his progressive candidacy noticed with little resources.

"I know I'm the underdog, I don't have a lot of $ and my name is not ballot ready," Pawar said.

Pawar is willing to step aside for a party slated candidate. State Sen. Daniel Biss is not. He says if Democrats are going to beat Rauner, they must tap into the anti-Trump movement.

"How do we build a campaign for governor that is inclusive of all these new communities? That is what I have done," Biss said.

Still mulling over a run for governor is billionaire J.B.Pritzker and City of Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers.

"No matter what this race shakes out to be, it's us versus Bruce Rauner - not us versus each other," Summers said.

With a long list of Democrats wanting his job, Rauner said Monday that all the candidates represent a continuation of the status quo.

The Cook County Democrats' slating process is set for August. The idea behind an endorsement before the primary is to limit the amount of party infighting before the general election.