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." (Read more Illinois stories.)