Chris Kennedy, Illinois’ snowflake candidate for governor

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Chris Kennedy, Illinois' snowflake candidate for governor

By John Ruberry

The Demo­c­ra­tic guber­na­to­r­ial pri­mary in Illi­nois is more than a year away but the field of can­di­dates to chal­lenge Repub­li­can incum­bent Bruce Rauner is tak­ing shape. On Thurs­day Christo­pher G. Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy, announced on YouTube that he’ll be run­ning for the Demo­c­ra­tic nom­i­na­tion for gov­er­nor of America’s fifth-​most pop­u­lous state, after sev­eral aban­doned flir­ta­tions with run­ning for pub­lic office.

Kennedy is by no means a carpet-​bagger, he’s lived in the Chicago area for three decades; he moved to Illi­nois to work at Chicago’s Mer­chan­dise Mart, which was once the jewel in the crown of the Kennedy fam­ily empire. The Mart was sold in 1998, but Kennedy still was the pres­i­dent of Mer­chan­dise Mart Prop­er­ties from 20002012. He also served as chair­man of the Chicago Con­ven­tion and Tourism Bureau and the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois Board of Trustees; in the lat­ter post Kennedy famously and cor­rectly pre­vented Barack Obama’s ter­ror­ist pal, Bill Ayers, from receiv­ing emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor sta­tus after retir­ing from the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois at Chicago. A book by Ayers’ Weather Under­ground group was ded­i­cated to a slew of creeps they described as polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, includ­ing Sirhan Sirhan, the assas­sin of RFK.

As for the YouTube announce­ment, such a move on the sur­face appears to estab­lish Kennedy’s cre­den­tials as a 21st-​century can­di­date, but that tac­tic betrays his biggest flaw as a politi­cian. He’s not a peo­ple per­son. I can’t remem­ber who said it, but a wiser scribe than me said some­thing along these lines about Hillary Clin­ton, “Some chefs can’t cook in front of an audi­ence. And Hillary can’t do pol­i­tics in front of people.”

And that’s Kennedy too.

Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-​Times alone of main­stream media mouth­pieces noted the sig­nif­i­cance of the YouTube announce­ment. Kennedy prefers the safer climes of one-​on-​one and tele­phone inter­views. And con­trolled envi­ron­ments such as YouTube.

At a gath­er­ing of Illi­nois del­e­gates dur­ing the Demo­c­ra­tic National Con­ven­tion last year Kennedy gave a speech, after meet­ing with Illi­nois House speaker and Demo­c­ra­tic boss Michael Madi­gan of Chicago, where he strongly crit­i­cized Rauner. The Repub­li­can reformer’s “turn­around agenda,” which includes such needed items as term lim­its, a ban on ger­ry­man­der­ing, and tort reform, has been blocked by Madi­gan, who until last month, enjoyed super­ma­jori­ties in both cham­bers of the Gen­eral Assembly.

After their DNC meet­ing, Madi­gan said that Kennedy would make “a very good can­di­date” for governor.

In his speech, Kennedy bemoaned the chang­ing media land­scape. “With the decline of daily news­pa­pers and other media,” he said, “there is [sic] sim­ply fewer reporters than there used to be to tell the rest of us the truth.”

As you’ll see here, a deer-​in-​the head­lights Kennedy refused to answer ques­tions from some of those remain­ing reporters, includ­ing a basic one from Fox 32 Chicago’s Mike Flan­nery, “Are you run­ning for gov­er­nor or not?”

Kennedy’s reply to that reporter? “Please, I don’t need to address you,” con­clud­ing with, “What have you become?” All he had to say was that he was still con­sid­er­ing his options for the future.

Illi­noisans – meet your snowflake can­di­date for gov­er­nor, Gen­er­a­tion X-​er Chris Kennedy.

Since last week’s announce­ment Kennedy has been asked about Madi­gan – and in his replies he has either dodged the queries or coun­tered with crit­i­cisms of Rauner, who three years ago became the first can­di­date for gov­er­nor to win a major­ity of the vote since 2002.

Madi­gan is a one-​man adver­tise­ment for term lim­its. He’s been a mem­ber of the Gen­eral Assem­bly for 46 years and he’s been speaker of the state House since 1983, except for the two years in the 1990s when the Illi­nois Repub­li­can Party rode Newt Gingrich’s Con­tract with Amer­ica cam­paign into power. Later this year Madi­gan will become the longest-​serving state House speaker in Amer­i­can his­tory. He’s also chair­man of the Illi­nois Demo­c­ra­tic Party. Mem­bers of the House or the state Sen­ate who cross Madi­gan will find that cam­paign fund­ing from the party will evap­o­rate and they’ll be removed from mean­ing­ful com­mit­tee assign­ments. If those rebels some­how sur­vive, their polit­i­cal careers will be ger­ry­man­dered out of exis­tence. Yes, Madi­gan con­trols redistricting.

And now for the excla­ma­tion point: Madigan’s daugh­ter has been Illi­nois’ attor­ney gen­eral since 2003.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_95048” align=“alignright” width=“193”] Illi­nois Pol­icy Insti­tute car­i­ca­ture of Madigan[/caption]

Let’s put things another way. Imag­ine Illi­nois as a hockey game – with Mike Madi­gan as the puck and the goal­tender on both ends of the rink. And in Madigan’s Illi­nois, which is not a fan­tasy ver­sion of the state, the play­ers don’t move the puck around, the puck moves the play­ers around. Watch­ing the matchup is a declin­ing base of fans – Illi­nois is one of the few states that is los­ing res­i­dents. With Madi­gan – the most pow­er­ful politi­cian in Illi­nois even when there is a Demo­c­ra­tic gov­er­nor – in charge of the state, Illi­nois has the worst-​funded public-​public pen­sion sys­tem and the low­est credit rat­ing of the fifty states. And it has accu­mu­lated $11 bil­lion in unpaid bills, despite the state con­sti­tu­tional require­ments that all Illi­nois bud­gets be balanced.

But as Kennedy likes to remind peo­ple, Illi­nois hasn’t had a bud­get passed in two years – which he blames solely on Rauner — Kennedy just can’t find a way to crit­i­cize Madi­gan or even com­ment on him. In one of those tele­phone inter­views, this one was a Quad Cities NPR affil­i­ate, when he was asked about Madi­gan, Kennedy replied, “I have a good rela­tion­ship with much of the lead­er­ship in the state – and I think it’s impor­tant to be able to work with others.”

[cap­tion id=“attachment_95046” align=“alignright” width=“256”] Blog­ger out­side of the Mer­chan­dise Mart a few years ago.[/caption]

Snowflake Kennedy offers no solid answers as to how he’ll bal­ance Illi­nois’ bud­get, fix the pen­sion bomb, or stem the state’s pop­u­la­tion exodus.

But he’s a Kennedy. And he thinks it’s impor­tant to be able work with others.

Why is Chris Kennedy run­ning for governor?

John Ruberry, a fifth-​generation Illi­noisan, reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit. Both of his par­ents voted for John F. Kennedy for pres­i­dent in 1960.

By John Ruberry

The Democratic gubernatorial primary in Illinois is more than a year away but the field of candidates to challenge Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner is taking shape. On Thursday Christopher G. Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy, announced on YouTube that he’ll be running for the Democratic nomination for governor of America’s fifth-most populous state, after several abandoned flirtations with running for public office.

Kennedy is by no means a carpet-bagger, he’s lived in the Chicago area for three decades; he moved to Illinois to work at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, which was once the jewel in the crown of the Kennedy family empire. The Mart was sold in 1998, but Kennedy still was the president of Merchandise Mart Properties from 2000-2012. He also served as chairman of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and the University of Illinois Board of Trustees; in the latter post Kennedy famously and correctly prevented Barack Obama’s terrorist pal, Bill Ayers, from receiving emeritus professor status after retiring from the University of Illinois at Chicago. A book by Ayers’ Weather Underground group was dedicated to a slew of creeps they described as political prisoners, including Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of RFK.

As for the YouTube announcement, such a move on the surface appears to establish Kennedy’s credentials as a 21st-century candidate, but that tactic betrays his biggest flaw as a politician. He’s not a people person. I can’t remember who said it, but a wiser scribe than me said something along these lines about Hillary Clinton, “Some chefs can’t cook in front of an audience. And Hillary can’t do politics in front of people.”

And that’s Kennedy too.

Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times alone of mainstream media mouthpieces noted the significance of the YouTube announcement. Kennedy prefers the safer climes of one-on-one and telephone interviews. And controlled environments such as YouTube.

At a gathering of Illinois delegates during the Democratic National Convention last year Kennedy gave a speech, after meeting with Illinois House speaker and Democratic boss Michael Madigan of Chicago, where he strongly criticized Rauner. The Republican reformer’s “turnaround agenda,” which includes such needed items as term limits, a ban on gerrymandering, and tort reform, has been blocked by Madigan, who until last month, enjoyed supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

After their DNC meeting, Madigan said that Kennedy would make “a very good candidate” for governor.

In his speech, Kennedy bemoaned the changing media landscape. “With the decline of daily newspapers and other media,” he said, “there is [sic] simply fewer reporters than there used to be to tell the rest of us the truth.”

As you’ll see here, a deer-in-the headlights Kennedy refused to answer questions from some of those remaining reporters, including a basic one from Fox 32 Chicago’s Mike Flannery, “Are you running for governor or not?”

Kennedy’s reply to that reporter? “Please, I don’t need to address you,” concluding with, “What have you become?” All he had to say was that he was still considering his options for the future.

Illinoisans–meet your snowflake candidate for governor, Generation X-er Chris Kennedy.

Since last week’s announcement Kennedy has been asked about Madigan–and in his replies he has either dodged the queries or countered with criticisms of Rauner, who three years ago became the first candidate for governor to win a majority of the vote since 2002.

Madigan is a one-man advertisement for term limits. He’s been a member of the General Assembly for 46 years and he’s been speaker of the state House since 1983, except for the two years in the 1990s when the Illinois Republican Party rode Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America campaign into power. Later this year Madigan will become the longest-serving state House speaker in American history. He’s also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Members of the House or the state Senate who cross Madigan will find that campaign funding from the party will evaporate and they’ll be removed from meaningful committee assignments. If those rebels somehow survive, their political careers will be gerrymandered out of existence. Yes, Madigan controls redistricting.

And now for the exclamation point: Madigan’s daughter has been Illinois’ attorney general since 2003.

Illinois Policy Institute caricature of Madigan

Let’s put things another way. Imagine Illinois as a hockey game–with Mike Madigan as the puck and the goaltender on both ends of the rink. And in Madigan’s Illinois, which is not a fantasy version of the state, the players don’t move the puck around, the puck moves the players around. Watching the matchup is a declining base of fans–Illinois is one of the few states that is losing residents. With Madigan–the most powerful politician in Illinois even when there is a Democratic governor–in charge of the state, Illinois has the worst-funded public-public pension system and the lowest credit rating of the fifty states. And it has accumulated $11 billion in unpaid bills, despite the state constitutional requirements that all Illinois budgets be balanced.

But as Kennedy likes to remind people, Illinois hasn’t had a budget passed in two years–which he blames solely on Rauner—Kennedy just can’t find a way to criticize Madigan or even comment on him. In one of those telephone interviews, this one was a Quad Cities NPR affiliate, when he was asked about Madigan, Kennedy replied, “I have a good relationship with much of the leadership in the state–and I think it’s important to be able to work with others.”

Blogger outside of the Merchandise Mart a few years ago.

Snowflake Kennedy offers no solid answers as to how he’ll balance Illinois’ budget, fix the pension bomb, or stem the state’s population exodus.

But he’s a Kennedy. And he thinks it’s important to be able work with others.

Why is Chris Kennedy running for governor?

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Illinoisan, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. Both of his parents voted for John F. Kennedy for president in 1960.