LOGAN SQUARE — Democratic candidate for governor Daniel Biss named rookie Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) to be his running mate for the 2018 campaign at a rally at the Logan Square monument.
He joined the Chicago City Council in 2015 when he upset machine-backed incumbent Ald. Rey Colon to be the first openly gay Latino to be elected to the City Council. Ramirez-Rosa is also among the youngest to be elected to the council.
Ramirez-Rosa said he was running for lieutenant governor "to change the fundamental direction of our state by putting middle class and working families first."
The move is designed to establish Biss to the left of the other candidates in the crowded Democratic race for governor. Ramirez-Rosa was an outspoken supporter of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, and has called for Democrats to embrace Sanders' platform, including universal health care.
Biss said Ramirez-Rosa, a member of the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, was "progressive to his core."
"We're at a defining moment for our party and our state," Biss said. "In this moment, we need someone who is a community organizer and who believes in grassroots politics, not just as a campaign tool but as a model of governance."
Raised in Lakeview, Ramirez-Rosa, who is half Mexican and half Puerto Rican, worked as a union organizer and a member of U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez' staff before being elected.
Since his election Rosa has been a thorn in the side of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, urging the mayor to prevent more cuts to city schools by dipping into redevelopment funds and taxing big firms. He is a member of the progressive caucus and the LGBT caucus.
Biss, a state senator from Evanston, and Ramirez-Rosa will face an uphill battle for the Democratic nomination. The Cook County Democratic Party endorsed billionaire entrepreneur J.B. Pritzker as the best candidate to take on billionaire Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
In a jab at Pritzker, Ramirez-Rosa said "if we're going to transform our state, we can't replace one billionaire with another billionaire."
Pritzker's running mate is State Rep. Juliana Stratton, whose district includes several South Side neighborhoods.
Ramirez-Rosa is not the only Chicago alderman running for higher office in 2018.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) is also running for governor. Pawar selected Cairo Mayor Tyrone Coleman to be his running mate.
With Pawar and Ramirez-Rosa not up for re-election until 2019, they will keep their seats during the campaign.
Businessman Chris Kennedy has yet to name a running mate.
Under a new state law, the 2018 race for governor will be the first time candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run as a team,