NORMAL — Daniel Biss, a Democratic candidate for governor, called on young people to work with him “to change what's possible” during a get-out-the-vote rally Tuesday on the Illinois State University quad.
“We're going to win an election with people, not dollars. We're going to win an election with ideas,” said the state representative from Evanston. “We're going to win an election for ordinary people.”
In a reference to fellow Democrat J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire entrepreneur and Hyatt Hotels heir, Biss said, “They want us to believe that money wins elections, so if we want to beat (incumbent Gov.) Bruce Rauner, we have no choice but to pick the billionaire even if that might not be what we prefer.”
But Biss asked, if money does win elections, why isn't Pritzker pulling away in the polls?
The latest poll released Feb. 28 by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale has Pritzker leading with 31 percent and and Biss in second at 21 percent. The poll surveyed 1,001 registered voters in Illinois with a margin of error of plus/minus 3 percentage points. Businessman Chris Kennedy is in third with 17 percent.
Biss, who supports universal health care, free college tuition and more taxes on the financial sector, said people are “willing to fight for things that used to be pie in the sky in the past.”
About 150 people showed up for the rally over the noon hour.
The turnout excited Biss, who noted, “It was cold and literally snowing. … That kind of energy will turn into passion and volunteers.”
The other Democratic candidates are Madison County School Regional Superintendent Bod Daiber, Chicago community organizer Tio Hardiman and Burr Ridge physician Robert Marshall.
The primary election is March 20.
“We have … 14 days to transform the state of Illinois, 14 days to fight for the kind of Democratic Party we believe in,” Biss told the crowd.
At the conclusion of the rally, a large group headed to the Bone Student Center for early voting. Others stayed to talk one-on-one or take selfies with Biss, who later attended a meet-and-greet at the Bistro in downtown Bloomington.
Steve Jepson, a senior in English from Wheaton, said he had already cast his vote for Biss.
Calling Biss a middle-class guy with middle-class values, Jepson said, “Biss represents my class of people more so than J.B. Pritzker.”
He noted that Biss had distanced himself from House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, and “recognizes that we need Medicare for everyone and that our failed drug policies don't work.”
Senior Michael Smith of Blue Island, a journalism major, said he thinks one reason Biss has gathered support from young voters is a spillover from the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, who also attracted young voters.
Smith said more young people are “getting involved with the change makers.”