Businessman Chris Kennedy is reportedly gearing up for a potential 2018 gubernatorial bid, Politico reports.
Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, has publicly discussed the possibility of running for governor in recent months, but has yet to declare his candidacy. However, a top Kennedy aide told Politico Tuesday that he is preparing to file papers with the state board of elections “in short order… some time in the next month.”
“He’s making a pretty aggressive outreach across the state,” the anonymous source told Politico. “He has made a decision internally that he is going to move forward.”
In addition, the Democrat is reportedly interviewing potential pollsters and consultants as he continues to prepare for a possible bid.
According to the Politico source, Kennedy plans to make his announcement after the new year, alongside a group of labor leaders, ministers and businesspeople. He reportedly plans to partially self-fund the prospective campaign, perhaps evening the playing field with his potential opponent, Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose personal wealth and ties to rich donors have put Democrats at a financial disadvantage.
Over the past year, Kennedy has become increasingly visible, meeting with labor and party leaders in Illinois. In July, He spoke at the Democratic National Convention, slamming Rauner in front of the Illinois delegation.
“The governor’s so-called turnaround agenda is another form of misdirection, part of the narrative that government doesn’t work so he’s going to privatize it,” Kennedy said at the time. “The suffering and chaos that he has unleashed on the people of Illinois needs to end.”
During the convention, House Speaker Michael Madigan said Kennedy would be an “excellent candidate” for governor, citing his business experience and family history, the Chicago Tribune reported. Kennedy, the former chairman of the Merchandise Mart, now runs Top Box Foods, a nonprofit providing fresh food options in the inner city.
At the time, Madigan, who serves as the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, noted that he had met with Kennedy to talk about a potential gubernatorial bid.
The businessman is among a growing list of Illinois Democrats being circulated as prospective candidates. That list includes billionaire J.B. Pritzker, Ald. Ameya Pawar, state Sen. Daniel Biss, former Gov. Pat Quinn, state Sen. Andy Manar, U.S. Rep Cheri Bustos and Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers, according to the report.