Kennedy scion seeks Illinois governor seat
CHICAGO — Chris Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, announced yesterday he will run for Illinois governor in 2018, bringing the instant name recognition of his family’s political legacy to what’s expected to be a sharply contested race.
The Democratic businessman said Illinois is heading “in the wrong direction” under Republican. Gov. Bruce Rauner, who’s seeking re-election. In an email and video sent to supporters, he talked up history of service and said he wants to “restore the American dream to the people of this state.”
“Today, I am announcing my run for Governor because I love Illinois, but we have never been in worse shape,” he said. “We don’t need incremental improvement — we need fundamental change in state government.”
Kennedy, 53, is the eighth of 11 children of Ethel Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, a former U.S. attorney general who represented New York in the Senate and was assassinated in 1968 while seeking the Democratic nomination for president. He is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.
His campaign video featured footage of his parents and other family members, and Kennedy told The Associated Press he believes Illinois voters “remember fondly the service to this country of the Kennedy family.”
“People will know what is in my heart,” he said. “They will know what my family taught me, they will know my values and my goals, and I think that will set me apart.” The former chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, Kennedy founded and now leads Top Box Foods, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable, healthy food to Chicago neighborhoods.
He also serves as chairman of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises Inc., the Kennedy family’s investment firm. He previously managed Chicago’s Merchandise Mart and is leading the development of a more than $1 billion development in downtown Chicago known as Wolf Point.
Kennedy, who lives in the northern Chicago suburb of Kenilworth with his wife and four children, has flirted with running for public office before — including a bid for U.S. Senate — but didn’t follow through. He surfaced as a top contender for governor after he spoke to the Illinois delegation to the Democratic National Convention last summer.