LOGAN SQUARE — State Sen. Daniel Biss said Wednesday he had dropped Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) as his running mate, six days after the two politicians announced they were joining forces for the 2018 campaign for governor.
In a statement, Biss said he decided to move forward with a new pick for lieutenant governor after the two clashed over the Logan Square alderman's support for Boycott, Divest and Sanction, an effort to isolate Israel and force a settlement with the Palestinians.
"Growing up with an Israeli mother, grandparents who survived the Holocaust, and great-grandparents who did not survive, issues related to the safety and security of the Jewish people are deeply personal to me," Biss said. "I strongly support a two-state solution."
Founded in 2005 by Palestinians, the effort known as BDS calls for boycotts of companies that do business with Israel, urges the withdraw of investments from Israeli companies and pushes sanctions against Israel, including its expulsion from the the United Nations.
Biss said he opposes BDS because it "moves us further away from a peaceful solution."
During the interview process during the lieutenant governor selection process, Ramirez-Rosa said "he too supported a two-state solution and opposed BDS," Biss said. "After much discussion, it’s become clear that Carlos’ position has changed. While I respect his right to come to his own conclusions on the issue, it simply wasn't the understanding we shared when I asked him to join the ticket."
Ramirez-Rosa is a member of the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which recently passed a resolution supporting the BDS effort.
In an interview with DNAinfo, Ramirez-Rosa said Wednesday evening his position had been consistent in favoring BDS at the federal level while opposing it at the state and local level.
"I'm sorry the senator didn't understand the facts," Ramirez-Rosa said.
Biss, a state senator from Evanston, said in an interview with DNAinfo on Sept. 1 that he "thought hard" about partnering with Ramirez-Rosa, given his membership in the Democratic Socialists of America.
"Now is not a time to be cautious," Biss said at the time.
Biss also said he added that he hoped his selection of Ramirez-Rosa would help ease the lingering angst over the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. While Ramirez-Rosa was an outspoken supporter of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Biss supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ramirez-Rosa said he would continue working to build a "diverse coalition" to resist Republican President Donald Trump and Gov. Bruce Rauner, but did not answer a question if his removal from the ticket would exacerbate the divide in the Democratic Party.
Questions about Israel arose the same day Biss named Ramirez-Rosa as his running mate.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, who is running for re-election to his seat in the House representing the North Shore, withdrew his endorsement of Biss on Monday because of his pick of Ramirez-Rosa. Schneider said he hoped the alderman would "reconsider his position on BDS."
Schneider withdrew his endorsement when the issue appeared likely to roil his re-election campaign.
Jeremy Wynes, Schneider's likely Republican opponent, criticized the congressman for endorsing someone who picked "an avowed Socialist and far-left Chicago political activist who helped organize and lead the recent Socialist conference in Chicago that endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against our ally Israel," Wynes said on his Facebook page.
A spokesman for Biss said the withdrawal of Schneider's endorsement did not prompt Biss' decision to change running mates.
However, said the "many conversations" about BDS began after Biss lost Schneider's endorsement, Ramirez-Rosa said, declining to detail those discussions out of respect for the senator.
Ramirez-Rosa stopped short of endorsing Biss for governor in his statement, and in an interview said he would work to elect the candidate who championed core progressive issues such as Medicaid for all, a $15 minimum wage and expanded child care.
Biss did not name a new running mate Wednesday.
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.