Labor, education and breaking the budget stalemate were the centerpieces of Bob Daiber’s formal campaign announcement Monday for governor, in what he acknowledged is likely an underdog campaign.
Daiber, 60, of Marine is currently regional superintendent of schools for Madison County. A fourth-generation Madison County resident, he taught at Triad High School for 28 years before he became regional superintendent. In that time, he was a Marine village trustee, township supervisor and a member of the Madison County Board. His wife, Karen Daiber, is a small business owner, and his two children attended Triad schools and now attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
While his leadership positions took two pages, he acknowledged they were largely local or educational in nature.
“I realize that I am not from wealth, not a state-ranking official at this time, and do not have a blessing from a high political mentor,” Daiber said. “We are a middle-class family just like a lot of Illinois families. But I do not consider myself any less than any other candidate who may be running.”
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Those other candidates currently include Chris Kennedy, a Chicago businessman and son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy; business owner Alex Paterakis; and Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar. Dozens of other names have been floated in the past year, including the Obamas.
Kennedy has already spent months talking to major donors and political leaders, with buzz about his potential run as far back as last summer’s Democratic National Convention, according to news reports. House Speaker Michael Madigan, who leads the Democratic Party of Illinois, said at the time Kennedy would make an “excellent candidate.”
When asked how Daiber would compete with Kennedy’s head start, Daiber replied, “Every day.”
Daiber made his formal campaign announcement at noon on Monday at the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities Foundation in Edwardsville. The crowded hall was filled with many union representatives, as well as local Democratic leaders such as former county board chairman Alan Dunstan, Edwardsville Township Supervisor Frank Miles, State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons and Sheriff John Lakin, among others.
(Rauner) has failed in his constitutional duty as governor to propose a budget again this year. This is unacceptable. People are suffering. Illinois is suffering and Rauner is getting richer. Rauner has tripled his income while governor, and the rest of the state is broke.
Daiber said that if he is elected governor, he vows never to sign right-to-work legislation, and asked all other Democratic candidates to sign that pledge as well.
“Our grandparents sacrificed a lot to get these benefits, and we should not forget this,” he said. “I don’t know how many other candidates have ever been a member of a labor unit, ever paid union dues or been the president of a local. I’ve been all three.”
Prior to his position as regional superintendent, Daiber was a member —and for two years president — of the Triad Education Association. He’s also served in multiple leadership positions with Boy Scouts of America, the Madison County Heroin Task Force, Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents, Lewis & Clark College Advisory Board and Southwestern Illinois Leadership Council.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has confirmed that he plans to run again, and contributed $50 million of his own money into his election fund in December, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Rauner’s total cash on hand at the end of the last quarter totaled more than $50.8 million.
Kennedy filed his statement of organization last week and has not yet had to submit financial disclosures. Paterakis has $5,000 on hand, and Pawar has about $10,000.
Daiber filed last week in what he said was “so far, a largely self-funded campaign.” He used $20,000 of his own money and received a $1,000 donation Monday, which has already been reported to the board.
My family knows the price of public education because we pay tuition twice a year, okay? Because of the cuts the governor has made to higher education, 16,000 kids chose to go out of state for college... Those 16,000 will never come back to raise their families.
Daiber said he is kicking off a “listening tour” in Union County, Mount Vernon, Springfield and La Salle, among other places throughout the state, as well as Chicago. At the moment he is not taking leave as regional superintendent, he said, but at some point in the future will have to make a decision about doing so.
The gubernatorial election will take place in November 2018. The Illinois primary that will decide the candidates will take place on March 20, 2018.
Daiber on the issues:
- On Gov. Rauner and the state budget: “It will be my first order of business to establish a manageable budget... Our financial condition is a growing issue and it will take compromise to solve the crisis. (Rauner) has failed in his constitutional duty as governor to propose a budget again this year. This is unacceptable. People are suffering. Illinois is suffering and Rauner is getting richer. Rauner has tripled his income while governor, and the rest of the state is broke... Illinois must have a budget to attract business and uphold its responsibility to all the entities that provide state services.”
- On employment: “We have to develop a climate to generate those jobs... Business growth and development happens when states have a highly skilled workforce, assist to provide infrastructure for business and industry, and make permitting efficient.” Daiber cited Amazon’s decision to locate a warehouse with 1,400 jobs in Madison County as an example of all three factors coming into play. “Government must work in the best interest for all of Illinois, not a select group.”
- On college costs: “My family knows the price of public education because we pay tuition twice a year, okay? Because of the cuts the governor has made to higher education, 16,000 kids chose to go out of state for college... Those 16,000 will never come back to raise their families.”
- On education: “Our most serious issues is the growing crime rate... We need a cultural shift, and it’s not confined to any one locality. We cannot police this issue with more police officers; we need to target at-risk youth in grades 6-12.” Daiber referred to his “Give 30” program launched last year, which called upon people to volunteer 30 minutes a week to mentor at-risk youth. He said he believes the pilot program should be expanded statewide.
- On the importance of labor unions: “A highly trained, skilled workforce is best to complete a job safely, on time and on budget... Rauner’s ‘turnaround agenda’ is holding our budget hostage for the sake of weakening collective bargaining agreements and eliminating the prevailing wage. We should not be balancing the budget by breaking the backs of the working class.”