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Biss picks Rockford state rep to replace dumped running mate

Daniel Biss announced his running mate Litesa Wallace in an online video Friday. | YouTube

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss on Friday announced Rockford state Rep. Litesa Wallace as his running mate — two days after dropping Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa from his ticket amid backlash over his position on Israel.

Biss announced Wallace as his pick in a short online video. Noting she wasn’t “the original choice,” Biss said Wallace is “the kind of person who inspired” him to run for governor, an “ordinary person just trying to get by.”

“I’m so thrilled to join you today and be a partner in this fight,” Wallace, a south suburban native, says in the video.

The state senator from Evanston moved quickly in an effort to get past the embarrassment of asking his first choice to step down after only six days on the ticket.

The clock is ticking for all of the gubernatorial candidates.

Tuesday marked the first day to begin gathering the signatures they need to get on the 2018 primary ballot. Candidates must have a running mate before they can begin circulating the petitions, however. Democratic rival Chris Kennedy plans to announce his choice for running mate next week.

Ramirez-Rosa, 28, was chosen as Biss’ lieutenant governor pick last week. But Biss on Wednesday announced the two had “reached a difficult decision.”

“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 in a statement about the decision.

At issue are comments Ramirez-Rosa made last year about U.S. divestment from Israel. Speaking to the Real News Network, the 35th Ward alderman 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.

Congressman Brad Schneider dropped his endorsement of Biss over the comments and after pressure from groups and his GOP opponent Jeremy Wynes.

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.”