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Pawar Drops Out Of Illinois Governor Race: We 'Don't Have The Money'

By  Heather Cherone and Patty Wetli | October 12, 2017 11:08am | Updated on October 13, 2017 11:55am

 Ald. Ameya Pawar is running for governor of Illinois.
Ald. Ameya Pawar is running for governor of Illinois.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

LINCOLN SQUARE — Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) Thursday dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor, saying it had become clear he could not raise enough money.

"We simply don’t have the money to meaningfully scale this campaign statewide," Pawar wrote in an email to his supporters. "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."

Because he and his wife have a nearly two-year-old baby girl, Sigalit, Pawar said his family could not borrow money to fund his campaign. Pawar said he regretted missing many of her milestones during the campaign — and said he planned to take her to the zoo Wednesday.

"I think we should all be concerned about what it means when money equals speech," Pawar said in an interview with DNAinfo. "And the more money you have means the more speech. We had the right message, we just didn't have the money and connections."

Pawar wrote that raising approximately $828,000 from more than 2,500 contributors was "amazing."

"But as you know, the race for Illinois governor will set a record as the costliest race in American history," wrote Pawar, referring to predictions that the race will outpace spending from any previous  statewide race in the country. "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, 37, won a second term on the Chicago City Council in 2015 with 82 percent of the vote. Pawar told DNAinfo he will not reconsider his decision not to run for a third term as alderman representing North Center, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, Roscoe Village and parts of Uptown and Lakeview.

In 2011, Pawar became the first Asian-American alderman after defeating the candidate supported by most Chicago Democrats.

Pawar said he would encourage women and people of color to run for his seat, and said he planned to host a forum in January to teach prospective people about what being an alderman is like.

Although he said he had collected nearly 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot, Pawar said it was the "right time" to bow out of the race for governor.

"I’m sorry for the people who have stood with me that I don’t have the extraordinary wealth or extraordinarily wealthy connections to make up the difference," Pawar said.

Pawar declined to endorse another candidate in the race, which includes state Sen. Daniel Biss, businessman Chris Kennedy and billionaire investor and entrepreneur J.B. Pritzker.

"They are good people, and any one of them will make a fine governor," Pawar wrote.

Pawar's former opponents praised his campaign on Twitter.

Pawar said that he would launch One Illinois, "a political action committee to organize young people around progressive issues and fight the false and bigoted divides around race, class and geography" in the coming weeks.

"We all want to see progressive change, but we must organize and attack the false divides around race, class, and geography," Pawar said. "If we don’t, we won’t realize the changes we all seek."

As he did when he launched his campaign in January, Pawar criticized President Donald Trump and Republican Bruce Rauner.

"Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump are targeting communities and turning them into 'the other,'" Pawar said. "We have seen before the brand of fear mongering that Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump wield to pit people against their fellow citizens, to divide us by geography, or race, or class, or absolutely any other difference that can be wielded for political expedience. It never ends well."

Pawar promised to campaign against Rauner and for the eventual Democratic nominee.

"The Democratic Party must win this election," Pawar said. "The Democrat must win."