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Tio Hardiman Considers Run for Governor

By Wendell Hutson | July 18, 2013 8:04am
 Former CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman said he is considering running for governor in 2014.
Former CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman said he is considering running for governor in 2014.
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CHICAGO — Former CeaseFire Illinois director Tio Hardiman has set his sights on a much higher title.

The 50-year-old community organizer said he is "seriously considering" running for the Democratic nomination in 2014 for governor.

"Some people may think I am crazy, but I think I would make a great governor. Everywhere I go from Chicago to Springfield people have been coming up to me asking me to run for governor, and I may just do that," Hardiman said.

"Politics is all about being able to organize others, listen to the needs of the public and the ability to raise money. Well, I have experience in all three areas."

Hardiman said he would make a decision in the next few months.

Declared Democratic contenders so far for the March primary include former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently announced she would not seek the state's highest office.

"Before a decision like this can be made, I need to have polls done to see what my chances are for winning. I think Governor Quinn is OK, but it is time for a change," Hardiman said.

Hardiman was raised by his grandmother in Avalon Park until she died when he was 15. He then went to live with his mother in the former Henry Horner public housing complex.

He attended Hirsch High School but did not finish due to "me working as a 'day laborer' to support myself," he said.

"I went on to get my GED, an associate's degree in Liberal Arts at Harold Washington College and a bachelor's and master's from Northeastern Illinois University in inner-city studies," Hardiman said.

If elected, Hardiman said his top-three priorities would be improving the state's fiscal condition; pension reform; and more opportunities for young people, such as better funding for public schools, job training programs and financial aid for college students. He also would make prison cells bigger.

"I know more prisons will be built, but I also know more space is needed for inmates while they serve their time," he said. "It's not so much about making inmates more comfortable as it is about being treated with dignity."

Officials with CeaseFire, where Hardiman worked for the last 13 years, declined comment.

During his tenure at CeaseFire, Hardiman said he helped raise $50 million for the anti-violence organization over the past 10 years.

"I know people with deep pockets and I know how to raise money," Hardiman said. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel is lucky I live in [west suburban] Hillside because if I lived in Chicago I would be running for mayor."

Prior to his tenure at CeaseFire, Hardiman said he worked for other nonprofit organizations. He said if President Barack Obama could go from being a community organizer to the first black president, then surely he could become the first black governor of Illinois.

Should Hardiman run, the husband and father of three adult children and one teenager certainly would face questions about his domestic battery arrest in May.

The Cook County State’s Attorney Office dropped the charge in July after Hardiman's wife, Allison, changed her mind about pressing charges. She also dropped an order of protection she was previously granted against Hardiman.

"We are back together and working on our marriage. I have nothing to hide. I couldn't hide anyway since all my business is out there," Hardiman said.