Chris Kennedy’s introduction to the media as a potential candidate for Illinois governor in 2018 got off to a rocky start at the Democratic National Convention. Kennedy, the son of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy, delivered a lofty speech to Illinois delegates, in which he talked about the lack of economic opportunities for low income residents of the state. Kennedy also criticized Gov. Bruce Rauner for unleashing “suffering and chaos.”
He said Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, a list of his top priorities that Democrats have so far rejected, has included changes to workers compensation benefits, term limits for state lawmakers and limits to collective bargaining. Kennedy, who formerly managed the Merchandise Mart, said business interests he met have never brought up any of the priorities Rauner mentions when they consider moving to Illinois.
“I know what it takes to get companies to move to Illinois and to get them to expand once they’ve arrived,” Kennedy said to the Democratic delegation.
He also told the story of “the head one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world” said to Kennedy he was reluctant to invest in Illinois because the state has had no complete budget for more than a year. Kennedy did not mention the name of the person who told him that.
After he finished his speech, Kennedy rushed past reporters who were waiting to gauge his interest in running for Illinois governor. But Kennedy got onto an elevator, which became stuck from so many reporters trying to cram on.
It led to this interaction:
FOX Chicago’s Mike Flannery: Are you gonna run for governor?
KENNEDY: Would you just turn around and look at what you’re doing. This is sort of like ridiculous. Please. Have some decency.
FLANNERY: Well it’s ridiculous is that you don’t answer questions. You’ve run four or five campaigns in the gossip columns. Are you running for governor or not?
KENNEDY: Please, please, I don’t need to address you. Please leave the elevator and let me go to my meeting. Please do that. Have some decency. What have you become? What have you become?
“I really don’t think that someone, no matter what they do in life, should be, you know, the subject of bullying and I don’t think being a reporter is a license to bully,” Kennedy later said to a much smaller group of reporters in the lobby of the Illinois delegation’s hotel.
He said he’s considering a run for public office, but still has to introduce himself to Democrats.
Meantime, Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan told reporters that he’d talked with Kennedy about running for governor, and praised Kennedy’s background in business and government.
“He would bring to the campaign the history of his family, which would be very helpful to the campaign,” Madigan said. “Just in general, he’s a successful Illinoisian.”