By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
He’s at it again. Tio Hardiman is pounding the sidewalk and kissing babies and shaking hands to win votes in hopes of defeating Governor Bruce Rauner and the crowded field of prominent candidates, including Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th) and Illinois Senator Daniel Biss (D-9th).
With the state’s budget crisis now in its second year, anger towards Springfield is fueling a crowded race for governor, where the list keeps growing and growing.
On Tuesday, north suburban Democratic State Rep. Scott Drury announced a bid for the party’s nomination for governor. Instead of lashing out against Rauner, Drury is promoting his independence from Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.
One would think that running against billionaires J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and incumbent Rauner would intimidate Hardiman, the former director and co-founder of Ceasefire and current executive director of the Violence Interrupters, Inc.
Rather, he plans on sprinting ahead of his wealthy contenders because he says he is the “unifier” and the only candidate who has the interest of all people at heart and he is running on his record.
“No, I am not intimidated because they are billionaires,” Hardiman told the Chicago Crusader.
“No matter who you vote for in the billionaire club, African Americans will continue to lose.“ When Hardiman ran for governor in the March 2014 Democratic primary, he won 125,500 votes and won 30 counties downstate.
“Governor Rauner is one of the worst governors in the history of Illinois. Anybody can beat him in the general election.” Hardiman, who held a press conference Monday at Kells Park, 3201 W. Chicago, was referring to Rauner’s inability to pass a budget for nearly three-years because lawmakers say they will not vote for his non-budgetary demands like term limits and tort reform.
“If you win anything over $25,000 in the lottery, you won’t get all of your money and that is insane. “I’m running for real,” said Hardiman. “I will champion the cause for all people.” He vowed to campaign in all corners of the state. His platform includes: supporting legal gun owners, increased funding for domestic violence shelters, mental health facilities, HIV awareness programs and violence prevention services.
Hardiman said he only needs 5,000 signatures but he has intentions of turning in the maximum of 12,500.
Hardiman’s platform also includes job creation, reducing gun violence throughout the state, increasing funding for public education and unifying Democrats and Republicans on key issues.
“I am hitting the ground running with thousands of people with me.” Hardiman said he won’t be playing political games like depositing huge amounts of money in Black banks that benefit a few but not the masses of the people.
Hardiman’s campaign threatens to split the Black vote for Pritzker as he seeks the state’s highest office. Pritzker is riding a wave of endorsements and support from the Black community
On Tuesday, June 6, the Illinois AFL-CIO — the massive labor organization representing nearly 900,000 workers statewide endorsed Pritzker for governor.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO and the working families they represent across our state,” Pritzker said in a news release. “As governor, the labor movement will always have a seat at the table and will be a partner in our work ahead.”