Indian American union lobbyist Ram Villivalam has won the Democratic nomination for the 8th Senate District in Illinois after sweeping up 52 percent of the votes leaving his presider State Sen. Ira Silverstein with 29 percent.
Silverstein told The Chicago Tribune that he was unable to retain his seat after being accused of sexual harassment for years, “we ran a good campaign; it wasn’t in the cards.”
The other two candidates who ran against Villivalam were Caroline McAteer-Fournier who had 14 percent of the votes and David Zulkey, a lawyer who had only 5 percent of the votes.
According to The Chicago Tribune, whoever wins the Democratic nomination in Illinois’ 8th Senate District, will clearly win the November election.
Out of all candidates, Villivalam had already received the most endorsements including ones from U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Brad Schneider, Mike Quigley and Luis Gutierrez, as well as the Chicago Teachers Union, Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club; raising a total of about $270,000 with approximately $40,000 from the Service Employees International Union itself.
Villivalam also told The Chicago Tribune that besides the sexual allegations, Silverstein had a “lack of leadership on issues” and had even asked people if they remembered any piece of legislation that he has passed, to which they said no.
“It’s not so easy to beat a 20-year incumbent however, we had numerous grassroots volunteers going door to door, talking to people about the issues that matter,” he said.
90 Miles Cuban Cafe in Lincolnwood, Illinois saw a crowd of about 200 supporters on Tuesday night, all shouting “Ram! Ram! Ram!”
If he wins the November election then Villivalam plans to reduce violence, provide equitable funding for schools and tax code reform as well as acknowledge the role harassment allegations.
Villivalam is a former lobbyist with the Service Employees International Union Healthcare, his parents came from India in the 1970s and he will be the first Indian American to be elected to the Illinois Senate.
According to his campaign website, Villivalam is also a board member of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC and the Indo American Democratic Organization, he “believes Illinois needs a new generation of diverse leaders who are Progressive and effective.”
Villivalam lives on the Northwest side of Chicago with his wife Elizabeth.