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Citing lack of money, Ald. Ameya Pawar drops out of governor’s race

Chicago Sun Times

Thursday, October 12, 2017  |  Article  |  Tina Sfondeles

Candidates--Statewide (12)

Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) has dropped out of the governor’s race, saying he simply doesn’t have the money to compete statewide against wealthy competitors.

“Without more resources, the only choices for expanding the campaign to a scope that could earn the nomination were to take on more personal debt or to cut staff. I have a young family, and we decided not to take on more personal debt right now. As to cutting staff, I simply refuse,” Pawar said in an email to supporters.

“We raised $828k from 2,526 donors; that is amazing. But as you know, the race for Illinois governor will set a record as the costliest race in American history. For democracy’s sake, I hope we see this as a troubling trend. My donors did the best they could, I’m the one who came up short, but I am not ashamed.”

Pawar said he was starting a political action committee, called One Illinois, to organize young people around progressive causes.

“I wanted to be your nominee for governor. I gave it everything I had. But I don’t have the resources to continue in a manner that I think would both be fair to the people who work with me and would set us up to win, and I require both. But I feel the same way about the inspiration I’ve acquired to make positive change as the Greek philosopher Plutarch did about education: It is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” Pawar wrote.

Pawar in January became the first Democrat to join a now crowded field of challengers for the March primary.

Pawar, 37, became 47th Ward alderman in 2011 and won re-election in 2015. His ward covers the North Center, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood neighborhoods.

In announcing his run, Pawar said he decided to run partly based on President Trump’s victory, and also what he’s seen in terms of the state’s budget crisis. And he acknowledged that he’d have to battle an onslaught of contributions from Gov. Bruce Rauner and his supporters.

“Fifty million from one man who has a very destructive record is nothing to be proud of, and I have $50,000 and I’m not ashamed of it,” Pawar said in January. “I’ve got lots of donors and lots of people who have helped me over the last five years. I’ll run a campaign to the best of my ability. I’ll raise what I can. But I’m going to go out there and talk to people.”

Evanston native Pawar, whose parents came from India in the 1970s, pulled off an upset in the 2011 aldermanic election, beating out former Ald. Eugene Schulter’s hand picked replacement. He was just 30 at the time, and ran his campaign office out of a North Side bowling alley. Pawar’s City Council successes include directing $40 million in TIF funds to libraries and schools in his ward and the towing bill of rights, among other things.