CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic candidate for governor Chris Kennedy's newly announced running mate says he wants to work with Kennedy to address the "senseless violence" that plagues Illinois and took the life of his adult son earlier this summer.
Kennedy on Thursday introduced Chicago political activist Ra Joy as his lieutenant governor candidate in the 2018 campaign, saying they would combine to bring a change from the status quo and "a new direction for our state."
Kennedy, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, is among more than a half dozen Democrats running in the March primary for a chance to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Joy, 44, is executive director of CHANGE Illinois, a nonprofit group that helped get automatic voter registration signed into law this year after Rauner vetoed it. Kennedy called that measure, which provides people interacting with a state office the opportunity to be registered to vote, "the greatest single piece of good-government legislation in a decade" in Illinois.
Joy's son, 23-year-old teacher Xavier Joy, was shot and killed in June, apparently by someone trying to steal his cellphone.
"As a parent that is the most excruciating experience you can ever have," he said in a campaign video released Thursday.
Joy said he found a kinship with Kennedy, whose father and uncle were both assassinated. He said he looks forward to working with on a solution to gun violence, which has spiked in recent years in Chicago.
Kennedy earlier this year released his plan to address the issue. It includes licensing gun dealers and creating a gun-tracing program to trace ownership of firearms used in crimes, as well as increasing the number of Chicago police officers on the streets and providing better access to mental health care for kids who attend schools affected by violence.
Joy is a native of Evanston who graduated from Southern Illinois University, where he played football. He and his wife live on Chicago's South Side.
The other Democrats seeking the nomination include billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker, state Sen. Daniel Biss and Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar.