Gov. Pritzker endorses mayoral candidate Daniel Biss; opponents respond


Maia Spoto/Daily Senior Staffer

Mayoral candidate and former state Sen. Daniel Biss. Biss received an endorsement from Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday.

Julia Richardson, Assistant City Editor

Gov. J.B. Pritzker endorsed Evanston mayoral candidate and former state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) Thursday. 

“(Biss) has a bold, progressive agenda for the City of Evanston,” Pritzker said in a tweet announcing his endorsement. “I look forward to working alongside him to get big things done for Evanstonians.” 

The statement follows several high-profile endorsements for Biss, including from U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), state Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and state Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview). 

Biss said in a tweet he is “honored” to receive Pritzker’s support.

Biss has also received endorsements from Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty and over half of Evanston’s aldermen, including Ald. Ann Rainey (8th). However, Biss rejected Rainey’s endorsement after she made anti-Black comments toward current city clerk and 8th Ward challenger Devon Reid, calling him a “very scary man” at a League of Women Voters of Evanston forum two weeks ago. 

Biss’ challengers are Evanston resident and grassroots activist Lori Keenan and 2018 Evanston Township High School graduate Sebastian Nalls. Last Sunday, Evanston Fight for Black Lives published a statement on Facebook endorsing Nalls.

Nalls responded in a statement Thursday that Pritzker’s endorsement of Biss showed “desperation.”  

Nalls questioned why the governor chose to make an endorsement in a race that “has little bearing on the political makeup of Illinois,” referencing Pritzker’s decision to remain neutral in Chicago’s 2019 mayoral race.

“If Governor Pritzker had refused to endorse a candidate in the city he resided in, he would have no need to endorse a candidate in Evanston’s mayoral race,” Nalls said. “This serves as a red flag.”

Nalls also called into question Biss’ state policy track record, which he said threatened healthcare and pension benefits for low-income families and Evanston teachers. 

“I have been concerned that words filled with emotions would result in individuals reducing me to an emotional, angry black man,” Nalls’ statement read. “But I ask that Evanston residents question themselves on whether Daniel Biss has Evanston’s best interests at heart.”

Keenan released a statement Thursday night that echoed Nalls’ sentiment about Biss’ legislative record. She cited Biss’ vote to give corporations “millions of dollars in tax breaks” and his support of cuts that would have taken almost $10 million from Evanston schools as counter to Pritzker’s characterization of “bold, progressive” politics.

She also said Biss has failed to have a presence serving the Evanston community, despite running for five offices in 10 years.

“Evanston needs a real leader with local experience who is tied to the community, not the statewide political machine,” Keenan said in her statement. “I will continue to fight for what (the people) need, not just occupy the mayoral seat until another office opens up. I am not a politician, I am one of you.”

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Related Stories: 

  Mayoral candidate Daniel Biss rejects ald. Ann Rainey’s endorsement 

 — Mayoral candidates Lori Keenan and Sebastian Nalls grill Daniel Biss’ legislative record in debate

 — Etown Sunrise, EFBL host mayoral candidates in town hall