State Rep. Biss to seek Schoenberg’s state Senate seat

Patrick Svitek

State Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) announced in an email letter to supporters Thursday he will be seeking outgoing state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg’s seat.

At a news conference Tuesday, Schoenberg told reporters he would not run for reelection and would instead pursue an expanded full-time role advising J.B. and M.K. Pritzker and their family philanthropy on early childhood development initiatives.

In Thursday’s email, Biss said joining the state Senate would allow him to have a “bigger impact” on his signature causes – fiscal policy, education, environmental policy and political reform.

“Tackling those problems in the House has been an extraordinary honor, and it has only increased my desire to create the efficient, responsive, progressive Illinois government we all have the right to demand,” the Evanston Democrat wrote in the email message.

“I know I’ll be able to make more rapid progress toward that goal in the Senate.”

Biss further encouraged his supporters to turn out for a campaign kick-off Sunday afternoon at the Mallinckrodt Center, 1041 Ridge Ave., in Wilmette.

The email also included a paragraph-long list of more than 30 public officials Biss described as his “early supporters,” including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen, Evanston Ald. Jane Grover (7th) and Evanston Ald. Mark Tendam (6th).

Tendam on Thursday welcomed Biss’ announcement, adding he was more surprised by Schoenberg’s retirement earlier this week than Biss’ decision to pursue the state Senate seat.

The Evanston alderman added Biss is a nonetheless exceptional candidate for the state-level race.

“He’s very perceptive, ambitious, and I know he’ll be a terrific legislator,” Tendam said. “I think he already is.”

In his e-mail message, Biss acknowledged the time frame to fill his nomination papers is narrowing.

“To get on the ballot, I need to collect thousands of signatures in little more than a week,” he wrote. “Please help make this candidacy a reality by gathering petition signatures.”

Despite the nearing deadline, Grover said she is more than confident in Biss’ electoral prospects. The Evanston alderman described Biss as a “bright, competent, innovative, creative” thinker who could effect real change in Springfield.

“I have no doubt,” Grover said. “He will put together a strong campaign. He already has right off the bat, and he’ll rally the troops to get the signatures he needs to be on the ballot.”

Grover added she helped circulate petitions for Biss during his 2010 General Assembly run and will do the same for this upcoming race.

Biss, a former math professor at the University of Chicago, first ran for 17th district state representative in 2008 and lost narrowly to incumbent Elizabeth Coulson. In 2010, Biss defeated Republican Hamilton Chang for the same seat by a nearly 10-point margin.

Kimberly Railey contributed reporting.

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