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Chris Kennedy blasts Gov. Rauner at Democrats' convention

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Illinois Governor Kennedy

In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Kennedy Jr., listens during a trustees meeting in Urbana, Ill. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said Tuesday, July 26, 2016 that Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, would be an 'excellent candidate' for governor in 2018. Madigan made the comments in Philadelphia at the Democratic Party convention after Kennedy spoke to the Illinois delegation.

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, would be an "excellent candidate" for governor in 2018.

Madigan made the comments in Philadelphia Tuesday after Kennedy spoke to Illinois delegation at the Democratic convention. Madigan also praised U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin as a potential gubernatorial candidate, saying he would be "uniquely qualified for the job."

The Chicago Tribune reports (http://trib.in/2auCHtK ) that Kennedy used his address Tuesday to criticize Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for trying to curb the power of unions and for the state's lack of a complete budget.

"The suffering and chaos that he has unleashed on the people of Illinois needs to end," Kennedy said.

But after his speech, Kennedy declined to address speculation that he's interested in the state's top office.

"I said what I was going to say inside today," he said.

Rauner's office did not address Kennedy's comments, saying in a statement that the governor is focused on Illinois.

"The governor is focused right now on ensuring good government reforms — like term limits — are enacted in Illinois, which is something the vast majority of Illinoisans support," spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said.

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Madigan, who is also the state Democratic Party chairman, said Kennedy was put on the agenda to speak to the Illinois delegation after receiving a request from him to do so.

Madigan said as a candidate Kennedy "would bring to the campaign the history of his family, which would be very helpful."

Kennedy, 52, runs Top Box Foods, a grocery nonprofit. In 2012, he sold his ownership of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. During his address, he touted his business acumen.

"I know what it takes to get companies to Illinois and to get them to expand once they arrive," he said.

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