Who am I?

Daniel Biss is a Democratic candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives in the 17th District. As a teacher, university researcher, political organizer, and civically active community member, Daniel is committed to bringing fiscal responsibility, sound education policy, and creative solutions for political reform to Springfield.

Daniel ran a historic campaign for the seat in 2008 against an entrenched six-term incumbent, a transformative candidacy that stunned the insiders. His grassroots campaign attracted the attention and admiration of political observers from across the country. He was lauded for walking virtually every neighborhood in the community, talking with thousands of people across the district, engaging hundreds of new volunteers and activists in the political process, and communicating with many of his constituents online via social networks and blogs.

After the removal of Rod Blagojevich, incoming Governor Pat Quinn asked Daniel to serve as a policy advisor, focusing on transparency and ethical reform. Seeing the continuing legislative dysfunction in Springfield and the urgent need for action in these areas has renewed Daniel's commitment to bring new leadership to Springfield, and so he is running again for State Representative.

A seasoned grassroots organizer, Daniel has coordinated political campaigns throughout the area. As co-chair of the Illinois Committee of 100 and the Illinois Kerry Travelers, he has helped progressive candidates on both state and federal levels in their fight to make substantive change. Through these efforts, Daniel has created avenues for thousands of dedicated Illinois citizens to join the political process and act on their commitment to our democracy.

An experienced mathematician and teacher, Daniel was until recently Assistant Professor of mathematics at The University of Chicago. He has also volunteered as a math teacher at the North Lawndale College Preparatory High School, a charter school on Chicago's west side aimed at readying at-risk youth for college. Daniel's commitment to excellence in education plays a defining role in his desire to make a difference for Illinois.

Daniel is married to Karin Steinbrueck, a former Peace Corps volunteer who is currently working on her PhD in history at Northwestern University. Daniel and Karin live in Evanston with their one-year-old son Elliot. They are members of Temple Beth Israel in Skokie. Daniel is President of the Democratic Party of Evanston and serves on the Boards of Directors of the Indo-American Democratic Organization and the Chicago branch of Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century. He has also served on the steering committee of Our Climate Matters (a global warming project sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Wilmette), the Social Action Committee of Temple Beth Israel, and the Voice and Action Committee of the Young Professionals of Evanston.

Daniel earned his doctorate from MIT and his undergraduate degree from Harvard University.

Why am I running?

I used to be a mathematics professor at the University of Chicago; I went into that line of work because I was passionate about research and teaching. During the last decade, my interests shifted toward public service primarily because I felt that our decision-makers were too susceptible to short-term thinking: in other words, decisions whose impact would be felt for decades were being made primarily with an eye toward a 2-year election cycle.

It is my belief that someone with my scientific background would be uniquely positioned to conduct an analysis of long-term consequences and take those conclusions into account when serving as a legislator. This approach would be beneficial in a variety of areas of public policy where long-term policy analysis and short-term political calculation so often bump up against one another.

My Goals

Political reform: Illinois has been dogged by scandals that have destroyed peoples faith and willingness to participate in state government, not to mention our ability to provide critical services in a fiscally responsible fashion. Our campaign finance laws are too weak, as are our procurement and oversight processes. The first step toward achieving progressive governance is to rebuild the electorates faith in government, and that must begin with substantial reforms.

Economic recovery: Like the rest of the nation, Illinois has been hard-hit by the recent economic downturn. This has resulted in astronomical unemployment and foreclosure rates as well as economic stagnation. State government can play a role in solving these problems by investing in green infrastructure projects to create jobs and in high-tech research to grow our economy and establish our region as world leaders in the transition to clean energy.

Education: Having taught at every age level, I am acutely aware of the challenges our state faces in education, from funding (where we rank near the very bottom of the fifty states) to standards (which are ill-designed and poorly aligned) to integration and graduation rates. These must be top priorities for state government.

My DFA Values

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My Campaign is People Powered!

My political background is in grassroots organizing, from presidential to municipal campaigns. When I ran in 2008, I personally knocked on 20,000 doors, and had over 700 volunteers who walked with me. I organized citizen groups from communities that are too frequently ignored by Illinois politicians, and I had the support of nearly all progressive grassroots organizations.

As I embark on my 2010 campaign, I am completely committed to using these same tactics. I am proud to say that I have already received the Northside DFA endorsement, and I plan to continue working closely with that organization. I have also begun raising dedicated funds for the hiring of summer organizing fellows.

It is my firm belief that the way a candidate wins an election and that person's conduct once elected are inextricably linked, so the only way that I know how to plan to be a community-based responsive legislator is to win this election by building a bottom-up grassroots campaign.

Voice support


  • Kathryn Schoerner, IL
  • Sandra Verthein, MA
  • Melissa Lindberg
  • Jim Blatchford, MA
  • Owen Brugh, IL
  • Barry Aldridge, IL

About the Endorsement Process

The driving force behind all DFA endorsements is our members. We recognize that all politics is local and that what is considered progressive in Los Angeles may be very different from what's considered progressive in Louisville. For this reason, DFA does not have a litmus test of specific progressive positions for which a candidate must stand. Our endorsement is heavily weighted based on these questions:

• Will the candidate move the progressive movement forward in their community?
• Does the candidate have substantial support from our local members?
• Do the candidate's positions and policies fit into the broader progressive movement?
• Is the campaign people-powered and the candidate working to win?

If you have questions, or want to let us know about a candidate in your neighborhood, please call us at (802) 651-3200 or email us at [email protected] .

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