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Kurt Summers Won't Run For Governor, Backs J.B. Pritzker

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers has decided not to run for governor, and is throwing his support behind fellow Democrat J.B. Pritzker.

The surprise of Summers' announcement Wednesday morning was blunted by the number of Pritzker staff and supporters in the crowd, but Summers said he made the difficult decision not to run for governor himself, and made the easy choice of whom to support.

"Today I'm proud to be endorsing J.B. Pritzker for governor. I've known J.B for over a decade. I've seen up close his values, his expertise, and his relentless passion for helping others. J.B. understands the best way to lift up our communities is to invest in them," he said.

Summers had been flirting with a bid for governor since last year, but never formally entered the race. He said it was a difficult choice to abandon his effort to challenge Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018, but he said Pritzker understands the needs and values of the African-American community.

Summers said Chris Kennedy, another high-profile contender for the Democratic nomination, doesn't have "a true understanding of the needs of the underprivileged and communities of color in particular."

The remark startled even Pritzker supporters.

"The Kennedy family is very well-respected in the community," Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward, said.

Summers' own poll, taken last month, showed Kennedy leading the field with black voters, 37 percent to 35 percent for Summers.

"The race isn't about politicians endorsing other politicians. It's about restoring the promise of the American dream to the people of Illinois," Kennedy said in a statement.

Pritzker said he was grateful to join Summers and other black elected officials at Summers' announcement.

"I'm humbled. I really am. I'm taken aback, in a way. We had conversations, and it just has made me more confident than ever that we will go on to win this Democratic primary, and then to beat Governor Rauner, who needs to be replaced," Pritzker said.

Summers said Rauner's policies have hurt minority communities, while Pritzker's work and plans would help them and all of Illinois.

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