Businessman Chris Kennedy announces bid for Illinois governor

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CHICAGO —The 2018 race for governor is starting to take shape, and Chris Kennedy said Wednesday that governor Rauner "doesn't have the heart" to do the job.

Kennedy announced he was running for governor in a video posted to YouTube Wednesday. Back in July, he awkwardly tried to dodge the question from reporters who pressed him into an elevator, but now it's official.

After floating his name several times in the past for political office, Kennedy is making his first run for governor. He brings to the race instant name recognition and considerable personal wealth to help fund a campaign against Rauner, who recently donated $50 million from his own fortune to his campaign.

Kennedy is the former chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. He runs a grocery nonprofit, Top Box Foods. He also previously managed the Merchandise Mart and worked to develop the Wolf Point project downtown. Kennedy is the son of the late U.S. Sen. and Attorney General Robert Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy. He says he learned the importance of serving others from his family.

Kennedy has harsh words for Governor Bruce Rauner, who recently deposited $50 million into his re-election campaign.

"I think the state is in worse shape than it's ever been all caused by the current governor. I don't think we need to go without a budget or throw a million people out of government programs," Kennedy said.

The state GOP quickly snapped back, calling Kennedy a lap dog for Rauner's political nemesis: House Speaker Mike Madigan. Rauner said saying he is really not paying attention to politics during an appearance in Normal Wednesday.

"I am very focused, like a laser, focused on getting a balanced budget with structural changes to our system because it’s broken. It has been broken for a long time," Rauner said.

Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar is also in this governor's race, while billionaire J.B. Pritzker says he's seriously considering a run.

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