State Sen. Daniel Biss holds meet and greet to kick off gubernatorial campaign


Ryan Wangman/Daily Senior Staffer

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) speaks to a supporter at a “meet and greet” Tuesday in Evanston. Biss announced his gubernatorial bid Monday through a Facebook Live video.

Ryan Wangman, Reporter

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) took a step in his gubernatorial campaign toward building “a movement of people” Tuesday morning, holding a meet and greet with commuters at Evanston’s Main Street Metra station.

Biss launched his campaign for governor on Monday, citing a need to “take the state back” from billionaires and “machine politicians.” On Tuesday, Biss told The Daily he entered the race because he believes people can’t rely on the state to perform basic functions, such as opening schools, providing health care or passing a working budget.

“The state is at a pivotal moment,” Biss said. “We’re in crisis. People are being hurt every single day.”

Illinois has been operating for more than a year without an official state budget — save a six-month stopgap spending bill from June to December 2016 — which has led to funding cuts for child care, health care and education. The budget impasse led the state to have the worst credit rating in the nation, according to news reports.

David Barish, a Biss supporter, said Biss’s background in mathematics — which includes a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology — was an “ideal” attribute to solve the state budget crisis. He also said he appreciated the job Biss has done in Springfield.

“If somebody is going to make difficult choices, it has to be somebody you feel ethically that you can trust to make those choices,” Barish said. “Rarely do we get that these days, (but) I think he’s one of those people.”

Nicki Bazer (Weinberg ’97), who volunteers for Biss, said she was drawn to the campaign because she has been impressed with the congressman’s leadership and focus on making life better for every Illinois resident. Biss has government experience and isn’t a very wealthy “gazillionaire,” so he understands the impact of various policies, Bazer said.

“We need someone who not only is focused on solving problems right now … but also thinks about where our state could and should be 10, 20, 30 years from now and brings that vision to Illinois,” Bazer said.

Biss served in the Illinois House from 2011 to 2012 and has been in the state Senate since 2013. He has been an outspoken critic of Bruce Rauner, the current Republican governor who has been at the forefront of the state for the past two years and will seek another term.

On Tuesday, Biss called Rauner a failed governor and said one of his primary concerns was holding politicians in Springfield accountable. Biss said his campaign will focus on involving people all across the state, and that he hopes to harness an “unbelievable flowering” of activist passion and energy.

“If we’re going to build a movement, we have to be everywhere,” he said. “We have to listen everywhere, (and) we have to include everyone.”

The gubernatorial primary will be held in March 2018, after which the top Democratic candidate will likely take on Rauner in the general election.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ryanwangman