U.S. Rep Bobby Rush endorsed Chris Kennedy for Illinois governor Monday, praising the Democratic candidate’s agenda for “radical change.”
“I stand with Chris Kennedy because I believe in Chris Kennedy and I know Chris Kennedy,” Rush, a Democrat representing Illinois’ 1st District in Chicago, said in a statement. “He is the best candidate to restore the promise of the American Dream for millions of Illinois residents.”
“Chris will bring a radical approach to state government and give us a state government that works for every family in every neighborhood,” he added.
Rush went on to slam incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, saying his “days are numbered.”
“He has been more cruel and coldhearted than any governor in our history,” Rush said. “He has slashed the social safety net, ignored gun violence and cut funding for Chicago Public Schools. We need change.”
The endorsement came the same day Rep. Luis Gutierrez threw his support behind billionaire businessman JB Pritzker – who some Kennedy supporters say is benefitting from the help of party leadership, even as eight candidates are still in the running for the Democratic nomination.
"The Democratic establishment here in Illinois wants to package up with ribbons and deliver the nomination to the candidate of their choice,” Rush said in a statement, adding, “You can’t gift wrap the gubernatorial nomination, because it’s not yours to give.”
“I think there’s a difference between an endorsement and a command. I think there’s a difference between holding somebody up and forcing them down,” Kennedy said, saying he was “humbled” to have Rush’s support. “And I think what you see today is one of the great leaders of the civil rights movement speaking to the people he represents.”
“My message is more important than their millions,” Kennedy added, in reference to the wealth of Pritzker and Rauner – both former venture capitalists who have donated millions to their own campaigns. “My beliefs are more important than their billions and in the end it’s going to be up to the individual voter.”
While congressional leaders often wait on the sidelines until the primary is over, both Rush’s and Gutierrez’s announcements came nine months from the primary election day in a race that’s shaping up to be the most expensive in state history.