Ald. Ameya Pawar Ends Campaign for Illinois Governor

Citing a lack of funds, Ald. Ameya Pawar has withdrawn his name from the list of candidates for Illinois governor.

"Today, I am ending my campaign for Governor," Pawar wrote on Facebook Thursday. "Briefly, I want to explain why: we simply don’t have the money to meaningfully scale this campaign statewide. Without more resources, the only choices for expanding the campaign to a scope that could earn the nomination were to take on more personal debt or to cut staff. I have a young family, and we decided not to take on more personal debt right now. As to cutting staff, I simply refuse."

Pawar, the 47th Ward Alderman noted as a liberal (progressive, if you prefer), began his campaign with only $50,000. 

Fellow gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss praised Pawar's campaign, but said that his withdrawal due to financial shortfalls sends a bad message about the state of politics: 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also weighed in on Pawar's exit from the race, calling him a "strong voice." 

"While he may have ended his bid for the governor's office, I have no doubt his commitment to public service and his commitment to using his voice to stand up for others will continue." 

Race frontrunner J.B. Pritzker also thanked Pawar for his efforts, praising him for his positive campaign. 

"Ameya took a tough look at how race, class, and geography impact our state, sharing a positive message of moving forward together," Pritzker said in a statement. "I agree with Ameya that we are one Illinois, and it is time to unite our party and our state." 

The 36-year-old announced his campaign earlier this year in an exclusive interview with NBC Chicago’s Ward Room.

“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. Chopping benefits or declaring strategic bankruptcy or selling companies off in pieces for profit is somehow seen as the secret ingredient for an Illinois utopia,” said Pawar.

The case he planned to make? In his words, “Government should be aspirational. People like to tell us how terrible government is but it was the federal government after the Great Depression that created the middle class. And sent a man to the moon.”

"The reason I got into this race, honestly, is that I was afraid," Pawar said in his statement. "Afraid of the society my daughter might inherit if the American ship stays the current course. She’s only one-and-a-half, but America is not a small ship. It is a giant tanker, the kind you need to start steering miles out from shore if you want to dock without crashing. We are not on a safe course right now, and we know it."

Pawar's fight to become alderman struck a chord with many.

Pawar, an Indian-American, was initially written off by a pile of prominent progressives like Mike Quigley, Forrest Claypool, Heather Steans, Bridget Gainer, and even Rahm Emanuel, whose Ravenswood house is in the ward.  But he knocked on every door, and resonated with fed-up homeowners who complained they hadn’t seen or heard a new idea from their politicos in a long, long time.

And so Pawar beat the machine and the Progressives with 50.8 percent of the vote, enough to win free and clear without a runoff.

Though he ended his campaign, Pawar announced he is instead launching One Illinois, "a political action committee to organize young people around progressive issues and fight the false and bigoted divides around race, class, and geography." 

"While fear got me into this race, as I leave it, it is the shared humanity I experienced on the trail that I’ll take with me," he wrote. "Beyond giving me hope, it literally makes my skin tingle when I remember the love and compassion people expressed, often people in desperate circumstances who were worrying about everyone but themselves."

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