Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers on Tuesday said he’s spoken with all the Democratic gubernatorial candidates about how they’ll represent the needs of African-Americans, Hispanics and women within their campaigns — and that he’ll announce whether he’s running for governor within the next two weeks.
Summers has toyed with running since last year. He’s conducted two polls, toured the state and met with stakeholders. And he’s planned an April 23 fundraiser in River North. But he’s apparently not quite ready to jumpstart his candidacy.
If Summers joins the race, he’ll be the only African-American candidate. He’d join J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, Bob Daiber, Ald. Ameya Pawar and state Sen. Daniel Biss in the race.
Summers says he’s spoken with each Democratic candidate about his plans to represent minorities. He said there’s a need for a candidate “that truly represents the values” of minorities.
“There isn’t a female candidate. There isn’t a black candidate. There isn’t a Latino candidate. And I think each of the current candidates have to be able to show their commitment to those constituencies but also have to show their commitment to those who are most harmed,” Summers said. “And I think low-income communities, working families and black and brown people have been disproportionately affected by what’s happening in Springfield.”
He said his “evaluation” period has been affirming: “It’s very clear that people want new leadership. It’s very clear that people are not only frustrated with Gov. Rauner but they’re frustrated with leadership at all levels. There’s great apathy and social unrest with respect to our political leaders.”
“I’ve talked to all the candidates and I think at the very least that the politics of the old won’t work in this race and that those constituents won’t be taken for granted,” Summers said. “I think that message is loud and clear. I think that will happen in this race.”
Summers conducted two polls about issues Illinoisans care about, in one, dividing the responses by demographics and by location. The budget stalemate, improving education, the budget deficit, reducing gun violence and the economy at the jobs were dubbed the most important issues.
Summers was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after Stephanie Neely abruptly resigned in 2014. He also served as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s chief of staff before leaving to join Grosvenor Capital Management, run by an Emanuel friend, Michael Sacks.
Summers, who lives on the South Side, has some ties to central and southern Illinois, which could help him should he choose to run.