Graph by Lessig, CC-BY

What’s happening in Illinois

I’m a supporter of Daniel Biss, a state senator and former math professor running for governor in Illinois.

I am a supporter of Biss because he is one of the rare Democratic candidates — Beto O’Rourke is another—who puts reform at the front. He’s a strong and clear progressive, and makes no apologies for those views, but he makes it completely clear that we won’t fix anything until we fix this democracy first.

Biss is running against a bunch of rich and famous people.

The current governor of Illinois is a state-level version of Donald Trump: A billionaire who knows nothing about government — and who has proven that in his inept and failed administration.

Yet the other leading Democrats are not much better. The shoo-in party favorite (and don’t think about Hillary Clinton here) is a Chicago billionaire, JB Pritzker. And challenging him is another rich and famous Democrat, Chris Kennedy. “Everyone knows” against this money and fame, no one else could ever have a chance.

Pritzker in particular has been playing this game to win. He has beens spending millions since April, 2017 (the primary is in March, 2018) to lockdown the Democratic nomination. In October, it looked like the strategy would work. A poll conducted by Capital Fax/We Ask America found Pritzker: 39%, Kennedy: 15%, and Biss: 6%.

But last week, the same polling company released a stunning updated poll. And out of nowhere — except that magical place were people with principles, ideas and actual experience are heard — Daniel Biss has risen from a blip to #2. As of January 31, Pritzker had 29.79% (down almost 10 points), Kennedy: 11.5% (down 3.5 points), and Biss now has 17.43% (up 11 points).

From my perspective, the most telling truth is the graphic in the lede — the cost per point earned. Pritzker has spent more than $1.1 million dollars for every point he has earned. Kennedy about one quarter of that. Biss has spent $85k for every point he has earned.

Reformers everywhere should be paying attention to Illinois. This is a perfect fight to finally stand up to big money politicians.

I travelled to Chicago in December to participate in a rally for Biss at the Heartland Cafe. The room was packed, and there were people lined up down the block to get in. Biss was extraordinarily powerful and passionate in his pitch. This was the Cafe where Obama launched his Senate run. I can’t believe Obama was half as good.

But more extraordinary to me was that evening. I was invited to a dinner with some potential Biss supporters. And for hours, Biss explained to the 30 people around that table what he would do as governor. We all knew he was brilliant, and a bit of a geek (he’s a longtime friend of John Green).

But what you can’t see when you meet him is how deeply and comprehensively he understands how government can work. He is a principled progressive who will reform Illinois politics — and, as rare as this is in politics today—he actually knows something about governing.

His website is here. You can watch a collection of his ads here. My favorites:

You should support him here.

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