The first official Democratic candidate to challenge Republican Govenor Bruce Rauner in the 2018 gubernatorial election made himself known on Tuesday. Chicago's 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar told NBC Chicago’s Ward Room that he would run for governor. He later confirmed the news on his Facebook page, saying “With the blessing of my wife and best friend, I’m in. I’m running for governor.”
In announcing his candidacy, the 36-year-old alderman said government should be “aspirational” and criticized the elevation of power and wealth in politics. “I am running because we’ve gotten to a point in this country where wealth worship is the only qualifier for public office, trumping public policy,” he told NBC Chicago. “Government should be aspirational. People like to tell us how terrible government is, but it was the federal government after the Great Depression that created the middle class and sent a man to the moon.”
Pawar first joined the city council in spring of 2011, when he defeated Tom O’Donnell in the 47th Ward aldermanic race. The son of Indian immigrants, Pawar is the first Asian-American elected to the Chicago City Council, according to his website.
While Pawar is the first Democrat to throw his name in the hat, the list of Dems looking to unseat Rauner is said to include billionaire J.B. Pritzker, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelley and former chairman of the University of Illinois board Chris Kennedy.
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