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Gov hopeful Daiber doesn’t have money or fame — but he has a plan

Bob Daiber, Democratic candidate for Governor. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Seen by some as a long shot in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Madison County schools superintendent Bob Daiber says he’s working on getting Chicagoans to “trust” him.

Daiber impressed some with his confidence at a Cook County Democratic Party luncheon in March in which he said he’d win the entire state with a little help from Cook County.

“My confidence is that I have a plan, and if you are running for this office, and you don’t logically know how you’re going to get this state out of this mess, you need to get out of the race because this is not a time for Camelot,” Daiber told the Sun-Times on Tuesday.

“This is not a time for a dog and pony show. This is a time when some people are going to need to sit down, roll up their sleeves and really get down to business because this state is in a serious situation.”

Daiber, 60, lives in Marine in Madison County, and is the regional superintendent of schools. He lost three races for state representative in the ’90s and was elected to the Madison County Board in 2002.

Daiber has joined J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar and state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston in announcing runs for the March primary.

Daiber says “people in Springfield” know he “knows the game.” He calls himself the “poor guy in the room.”

“I’m the guy that most people wish would go away, but it’s not going to happen,” Daiber said.

Daiber might lack the popularity and Camelot mystique of Kennedy, but he’s banking on his name recognition in Downstate Illinois to help him in the race — despite having a bit more than $37,000 on hand at the end of March. Daiber knows he’s up against millions in the race, but he says he’s making plans for the next few months and focusing on the issues. Among his plans is a June meeting with the AFL-CIO to try to gain its endorsement. He also plans to unveil detailed tax structure plans — in January.

“I stay focused on the issues. I look at the support that comes. The money will follow me,” Daiber said. “And that’s how I plan to stay in the race.”

Daiber said he’s for a progressive income tax scale from 1 percent to 6 percent in which everybody pays: “We have a revenue problem. So everybody’s got to pay.” Still, he said it’ll take a constitutional amendment to make that happen and there must be a plan in the interim.

“I’ve laid out the bond plan, a short-term tax fix to stabilize the state until we create this new tax system, which is progressive,” Daiber said.

That includes taxing those who make more than $250,000: “They’re going to kick and scream and throw stuff at the TV when they see me, but they’re not going to miss it a whole lot because it’s investment money, and it’s beyond their standard of living.”

Daiber said he’s spent several days in Chicago over the last eight weeks, meeting with aldermen, Cook County commissioners, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, among others.

He said he’s seeking input, and that he’ll work to gain Chicago voters’ trust.

“There’s an identity factor. It’s convincing residents of Chicago to trust me, to trust that I’m going to deliver. That I respect the city. That I know about the corporate significance here,” Daiber said.

He said that differs from how some Illinois voters view Chicago: “There’s an appeal that you’re not part of the inner thing of being just self-centered around Chicago. That you understand. It’s almost like an opposite of what some people in Chicago look at me like. … ‘What’s he going to take from us.?’ Rather than. ‘What’s he going to bring to us?’ Some people Downstate think Chicago gets everything. They don’t realize they’re getting part of Chicago’s money,” Daiber said.

As for Illinois House Speaker and Democratic Party of Illinois Chairman Michael Madigan — the state Republican Party’s primo target — Daiber said the speaker was his second call when he decided to run. Daiber said the speaker “heard the rumor” and asked if he was serious. Daiber said Madigan told him to “move forward.”

“He’s not a bad guy. I’m probably the only guy who says that,” Daiber said of Madigan. “I have respect for him.”