BLOOMINGTON — Gubernatorial candidate and State Sen. Daniel Biss got a pledge of support from high in Twin City government on Wednesday.

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner endorsed Biss, a fellow Democrat, for governor during a downtown news conference, singling him out among a wide field of candidates vying to oppose Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

“Many people have said, 'Why are you supporting Daniel Biss?' Not just that he’s extremely intelligent. Not just that he’s extremely articulate. Not just that he listens. Not just that he’s a great leader and has experience. Daniel Biss has a heart and a soul,” Renner said.

“That’s what’s missing in Springfield. We are not just pawns in a chess game. We’re human beings, and Daniel Biss understands that. I am enthusiastically, wholeheartedly, unequivocally supporting Daniel Biss for governor of Illinois.”

Biss, a four-year state senator from Evanston, is part of a contest that includes: J.B. Pritzker, a businessman and heir to Hyatt hotels; Chris Kennedy, a businessman and nephew of President John F. Kennedy; Ameya Pawar, a Chicago alderman; and four other candidates.

When asked why voters should choose him among that field, Biss said Rauner and President Donald Trump are examples of businessmen who tried to improve government, a similar profile to Pritzker. He asked, "Are we having an election or an auction?"

"I'm proud to have been in Springfield fighting battles on behalf of ordinary people and winning those battles, creating a retirement savings program against the wishes of the life insurance industry and the Wall Street lobby that creates an opportunity for millions of Illinoisans to have a shot at a dignified retirement," he said.

"Bruce Rauner is a terrible failure, and we have an absolute responsibility to defeat Bruce Rauner in 2018, but, at the same time, we shouldn't pretend that Bruce Rauner created all of our problems. ... What the Democratic Party needs is not just someone who can take the fight to Bruce Rauner but also someone who can articulate an aspirational, bold agenda."

Biss didn't mention House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, by name during the event.

Biss also addressed the state budget crisis and its impact on social service agencies, including the YWCA McLean County, which he visited Wednesday morning, and spoke in favor of a progressive income tax, single-payer universal health care and school funding reform.

"We shouldn't take that money we get by finally asking billionaires to pay their share and just sit on it. We should use it to have not the most unfair system of school funding in the country but the fairest," he said.

About 25 supporters stood behind him as he spoke, holding signs reading "Daniel for governor" and "Biss, please."

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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Staff Writer

Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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