Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss has dropped running mate Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa from his ticket amid backlash over comments the rookie alderman made about Israel.
The decision comes less than a week after the state senator from Evanston tapped the young 35th Ward alderman as his pick for lieutenant governor.
“Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and I have reached a difficult decision about our ticket. As of today, I’ll be moving forward with a new running mate,” Biss said in a statement. “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.”
The 28-year-old Northwest Side alderman took the decision in stride, tweeting late Wednesday afternoon, “It’s been an interesting 6 days. If anybody wants to talk and grab a drink meet me at Crown at Milwaukee and Kimball at 8:00pm tonight.”
Biss announced Ramirez-Rosa as his running mate on Aug. 31, describing him as the grandson of immigrants, the son of educators, a community organizer, congressional caseworker and alderman. Ramirez-Rosa is also one of the first openly gay Latinos elected to the Chicago City Council and was a delegate for Bernie Sanders.
At issue are comments Ramirez-Rosa made last year about U.S. divestment from Israel. Speaking to the Real News Network, he said the U.S. government “has subsidized the oppression of the Palestinian people, and it’s time that stopped.”
“I have not heard much discussion about the relationship of the U.S. with Israel, with divesting from Israel to support the people of Palestine. Not a lot of that was discussed this weekend. And I think that’s a conversation that needs to be had,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider on Sunday withdrew his endorsement of Biss. That came amid pressure from groups, and after Schneider’s Republican opponent Jeremy Wynes criticized his gubernatorial endorsement.
“I was immediately concerned about some of Alderman Ramirez-Rosa’s past comments about the United States support of our ally Israel, and his affiliation with a group that is an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel,” the North Shore Democrat wrote in a Facebook post.
The Palestinian-led movement encourages boycotts of companies that do business with Israel.
Ramirez-Rosa in a statement Wednesday said “the difference of opinion we have on the role the BDS movement plays at the federal level would make it impossible to continue moving forward as a ticket.”
But some expressed disappointment in the decision. Clem Balanoff, who helped to run Sanders’ Illinois campaign, released a statement on behalf of Our Revolution Illinois citing his disappointment.
“Ald. Ramirez-Rosa was a delegate for Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential election and is a leading progressive voice in the Chicago City Council,” Balanoff said in a statement. “We are proud of Carlos for the integrity he has shown in standing by his convictions as a strong and unwavering advocate for working families. We believe he was an excellent candidate for Lt. Governor and are saddened that his voice will be missing from Sen. Biss’ campaign.”
But Richard Goldberg, former chief of staff to Gov. Bruce Rauner, said it was the right decision, calling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement “at its core … a political manifestation of anti-Semitism.
“Under Governor Rauner’s leadership, Illinois became the first state in America to divest its public pension funds from companies that participate in BDS. This should always be a bipartisan issue and I applaud Congressman Schneider and Senator Biss for making clear to the far-left that BDS has no place in the Democratic Party.”
Biss will have to find another running mate in order to start gathering signatures.