It’s time for a progressive governor of Illinois

We have 5 weeks to make it happen

In October 2017, Daniel Biss was polling at 6 percent in an Illinois gubernatorial poll conducted by We Ask America. Famed billionaire J.B. Pritzker was the frontrunner at 39 percent. Chris Kennedy held a distant second, behind Pritzker, but solidly ahead of Biss at 15 percent.

Daniel Biss was running as a real progressive, but initially, and for many months, it seemed to be a hopeless campaign. Biss would be outspent by Pritzker in the millions of dollars. And his family name was not a political legacy, like Chris Kennedy’s.

Biss needed a political revolution to win. When he picked up strong progressive and Democratic Socialist, Carlos Ramirez Rosa, as his running mate, many of us thought that this would be the turn of the tide. It was the political revolution Biss needed to win, and to remain accountable in office. But days later, Biss dropped Rosa—for an admittedly dubious reason.

Many were upset. I was upset. Some became disengaged. The campaign faded into the background.

But it didn’t fade for a small amount of volunteers and loyal supporters who kept going. Enough folks continued to believe in Daniel Biss and work for his campaign. Biss himself kept going, and kept listening to local organizations—which helped him improve his campaign and policy platform.

Something that never changed through the campaign was the message that Daniel Biss began with: we need to change the way politics works in Illinois. And he has now shown that there is only one candidate in the gubernatorial race who truly believes in structural reform, and who will actually fight for it.

A lot has happened between then and now. Despite a mediocre performance in the first televised debate, a poll shortly thereafter showed a major shift in momentum. The poll, again conducted by We Ask America, showed Pritzker dropping from 39% to 30%. Biss rose from 6% to 17%, bringing him to second place. And Kennedy was now in third place, at 12%.

The poll also showed a huge number of “undecided” voters, at 38 percent.

Three months after the first poll that showed “Biss can’t win,” this poll showed otherwise.

And a week after that poll, the most recent poll is even better news. J.B. Pritzker is leading Daniel Biss by only 3.5%.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to see that those numbers show the way to win. Biss is now barely behind, and the frontrunner isn’t even J.B. Pritzker. It’s people who haven’t made up their minds yet.

What had changed? For one, the folks who kept donating and volunteering for Daniel Biss were beginning to see the fruits of their hard work. These passionate staffers, whether paid or just volunteering in their free time, truly believed in Daniel Biss and what he could do for the state of Illinois. They continued to believe in him and work for him because overall, Daniel Biss has a progressive history in the Illinois State Senate. He has co-sponsored legislation on criminal justice reform, publicly-funded elections, alternative voting, progressive tax reform, a financial-transactions tax, expansion of health care and child-services, a ban on fracking, a student “bill of rights,” and more.

Unlike the other candidates in the race, we can believe Daniel Biss when he says he will continue to push a progressive agenda as governor of Illinois. Even if the other candidates say “progressive” things, they can’t back up their claims with a legislative record, and quite often are simply giving lip-service.

So the grassroots-powered campaign didn’t give up. And finally, all around the same time, a mass of progressive organizations decided to endorse Daniel Biss for governor. He has now received endorsements from Reclaim Chicago, Our Revolution Illinois, National Nurses United, Move On, Blackroots Resistance, and the National Association of Social Workers.

Certainly these endorsements played a role in the momentum shift, and members of these organizations will now be working to help Daniel Biss win in March.

But you don’t have to be in these organizations to help Biss win. (Joining or simply volunteering with them may be a good idea, though.) Illinoisans are starting to pay attention to the governor’s race, and are starting to learn about Daniel Biss. Staffers and volunteers got the ball rolling, and now it is time for all progressives and “regular folk” to lend a hand. You can help, no matter who you are.

There are more undecided voters than people who said they would vote for J.B. Pritzker, the “frontrunner” in the race. One reason still is that a lot of people don’t know about Daniel Biss, or his platform, or the people-powered movement he is helping to build in Illinois. The more who become aware of these things, the more we’ll see folks move from “undecided” to “Daniel Biss.”

That is exactly what we need to do. And if we commit, it is exactly what will happen.

And the more people see J.B. Pritzker is running for personal gain, not the people—which honestly isn’t that difficult to see—the more his polls will slip. The more Biss will rise.

For Daniel Biss to win, we will get more of the “undecideds” than Pritzker. We will also sway some of Pritzker’s would-be voters, because we are going to change a few minds in a relatively short amount of time.

It won’t be as difficult as it sounds. Pritzker is winning because he has lots of money and because he’s already famous. He’s not necessarily ahead in the polls because more people believe he would be a good governor of Illinois, and he’s certainly not ahead because most people want another billionaire in the governor’s mansion.

Here’s how we’re going to do it. Everyone on Team Biss is going to convince more people to join Team Biss. And everyone on Team Biss—which will continue to grow until the primary election on March 20th—is going to go out there and persuade those “undecideds” and “I’m voting for Pritzker because he is the only option” voters.

For the next 5 weeks, we are going to flyer every location that is ripe for flyering. We will hand them out and post them up. We will make phone calls and knock on doors. Biss will be unapologetic about his progressive agenda, and his small grassroots army will act even bigger than they are.

We’re going to post on social media that Biss is good, and Pritzker is not. Simple, right? But it matters. Even if that’s the only thing we can do, it helps. (But again, I encourage to do more if you can.)

We are going to make a commitment to do some of these things: donate, volunteer, be an activist—even if only for a while. Then, we’re going to head to the polls on March 20th.

We’re going to vote for Daniel Biss—and so are our friends, our family members, and our colleagues—the ones on the fence that we convinced. Most of them only needed a nudge.

The folks in Illinois who voted, volunteered, and donated for Bernie Sanders in 2016 are especially going to come out of the woodwork and vote for Biss, because Biss wants to do the same thing Sanders does. Biss has promised to fight to fundamentally transform this corrupt system, through a mass political movement. And he is the only gubernatorial candidate capable enough, and credible enough, to do so.

Daniel Biss can be our Governor, and that would be a major change. It would a big change—in a really good way, for the millions of people who live in our state. Now is our chance, and now is the time.

And when Biss beats Pritzker, that is still the beginning, not the end, of our political revolution.

After we win the primary, we’ll worry about Bruce Rauner—who Illinois doesn’t like—and who stands less a chance against Biss than just another corrupt billionaire.

And we’ll have so much other work to do, to change the way our political system works, to restructure our “rigged” economy, and to make a government that works for all of us, not just a handful at the top.

But right now, let’s do this. Because it’s super important, and it’s right here.

If you agree—then let’s go.

Daniel Biss: Get Involved (donate, volunteer)

Campaign literature/flyer

Reclaim Chicago Endorsement

Daniel Biss grassroots flyer (print and share widely)


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