Chris Kennedy Announces He’s Running for Governor in 2018

As has been speculated on for months, Chis Kennedy, is officially announcing he is running for Illinois Governor.   Kennedy is the former Chair of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, and head of the Chicago Merchandise Mart.

Here is a video produced by the campaign, that was released for the announcement of his running.

This campaign, will certainly be among the most expensive ever run, as Kennedy faces in Gov Bruce Rauner, and man with a seemingly endless source of funds.   And Kennedy may also face a billionaire in the primary, should JB Pritzker decide he too will enter the race, as is the speculation.

Last Fall, Kennedy appeared in Springfield in a conversation with former Gov Jim Edgar, that was a fundraiser for the Better Government Association. At that time, he told reporters he was looking at running, but wanted to get past the November election before making a decision, which he said in part would depend on whether he thought he could raise enough money to be competitive.

Press Release from the Kennedy Campaign…

Kennedy explains he is running for governor because he believes Illinois is headed in the wrong direction. A renewed focus on job creation will fuel everything from an expanding tax base to new homes to urban renaissance. Kennedy’s life’s work has been about bringing people together to solve problems for the greater good. It is those skills and experiences that make him uniquely qualified to lead Illinois at this critical time.

“I moved to Illinois thirty years ago with an enthusiasm for business and a commitment to serve. Today, I am announcing my run for Governor because I love Illinois, but we have never been in worse shape. We don’t need incremental improvement—we need fundamental change in state government,” Kennedy said. “By working together to achieve results for Illinois families, I believe we can restore the American Dream in our state within a generation.

“It’s time for Illinois to again embrace the American Dream–the notion that we are a country and a state where anyone can make it and where unlimited opportunity is the promise of our country,” Kennedy added.

“Every job I’ve had, every organization I’ve been a part of, has relied on teams working together and shared leadership, which resulted in shared success. I’ve straddled the worlds of business politics, and social justice. I know how an economy is meant to function, not just for the rich, but for members of all communities. Together, we can fix the mess and restore the promise of our state,” Kennedy said.

Chris Kennedy is a husband, father, businessman, and civic leader. Kennedy and his wife, Shelia, run Top Box Foods, a hunger-relief nonprofit they founded to deliver high-quality, healthy, affordable foods to underserved neighborhoods. Previously, he served as Chairman of the Board of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the nation’s leading nonprofit food distribution and training center, which provides food to more than 600,000 adults and children each year. He has been involved in dozens of Illinois service and civic organizations.

Kennedy managed the Merchandise Mart, one of the great economic engines of Illinois. Under his leadership, the Mart became one of the largest LEED-certified buildings in the world.  From 2009 through 2015, he served as chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.  At U of I, Kennedy oversaw a $5.5 billion budget, 78,000 students and more than 23,000 faculty and staff. During his tenure, he reformed the administration and admissions process and grew the endowment and increased financial aid. Now, Kennedy is leading the real estate development in downtown Chicago known as Wolf Point. Wolf Point is a massive construction project backed by more than $1 billion in private financing that is bringing 2,000 construction and permanent jobs to Illinois.

Kennedy is the son of Ethel Skakel Kennedy and the late Senator Robert Francis Kennedy. Chris and Sheila have four children and reside in suburban Chicago.