The eighth of Robert F. Kennedy's 11 children is planning a career change from business to politics. Chris Kennedy launched a bid for the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor on Wednesday, saying in a video message that the state is "headed in the wrong direction" and he will restore its economy. The 53-year-old former president of the Merchandise Mart Properties real estate firm is entering the race amid a state fiscal crisis so severe that Illinois has become the first state since the Great Depression to go more than a year without a working budget, the Wall Street Journal reports. He is seeking to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is locked in a budget battle with Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan, in the 2018 election.
"I've seen from so many different vantage points the potential of the state, then I see the failing of the government," Kennedy said in his video message. "There's growing despair, there’s bewilderment." In a tweet, Rauner, a former private equity exec who donated $50 million to his own campaign in December, asked for donations to help defeat Kennedy, describing him as a "crony" of Madigan. Rauner also called Kennedy a "pawn" and a "lap dog" of Madigan in attacks that Kennedy tells the Chicago Tribune are "pathetic" and "an insult to the entire Kennedy family and an insult to the voters of Illinois."