Daniel Biss

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Daniel Biss
Daniel Biss 2012 (cropped).jpg
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 9th district
In office
January 8, 2013 – January 6, 2019
Preceded byJeffrey Schoenberg
Succeeded byLaura Fine
Member of the Illinois House of Representatives
from the 17th district
In office
May 2011 – January 8, 2013
Preceded byElizabeth Coulson
Succeeded byLaura Fine
Personal details
Daniel Kálmán Biss

(1977-08-27) August 27, 1977 (age 42)
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Karin Steinbrueck
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA, PhD)
WebsiteOfficial website

Daniel Kálmán Biss[1] (born August 27, 1977)[2] is an American politician who was the member of the Illinois Senate for the 9th district from January 2013 until January 2019. The district includes Chicago's northern suburbs, including Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, Wilmette, and Winnetka. Biss first ran for office in 2008 and was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013. He was also a candidate in the Democratic Party primary for Governor of Illinois in the 2018 election.[3]

Prior to pursuing a political career, Biss was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago from 2002 to 2008.

Personal life and education[edit]

Biss was born into a Jewish Israeli family[4][5] of musicians: his brother is the noted pianist Jonathan Biss, his parents are the violinists Paul Biss and Miriam Fried, and his grandmother was the Russian-born cellist Raya Garbousova.[6][7]

Biss attended Bloomington North High School in Bloomington, Indiana, and he was a finalist in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search in 1995.[8][9] He received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude in 1998, and a Ph.D. at MIT in 2002, both in mathematics.[10] He won the 1999 Morgan Prize for outstanding research as an undergraduate, and was a Clay Research Fellow from 2002 to 2007.[11] His doctoral advisor was Michael J. Hopkins. He was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in the fall of 2003.[12]

Biss also wrote an appendix for the popular 2006 young adult novel An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green.[13]

Mathematics career[edit]

Prior to full-time pursuit of a political career, Biss was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago from 2002 to 2008.[14]

At least four of the mathematics papers that Biss published in academic journals were later discovered to contain major errors. Mathematician Nikolai Mnëv published a report in 2007 that there was a "serious flaw" in two of Biss' works published in Annals of Mathematics and Advances in Mathematics in 2003, saying "unfortunately this simple mistake destroys the main theorems of both papers".[15] In 2008 and 2009, Biss acknowledged the flaw and published erratum reports for the two papers, thanking Mnëv for drawing his attention to the error.[10][16][17] He and a co-author, Benson Farb, also acknowledged in 2009 that there was a "fatal error" in a paper they had published in Inventiones Mathematicae in 2006, thanking mathematicians Masatoshi Sato and Tom Church for helping to explain the problem.[18] Another of his papers published in Topology and its Applications was formally retracted by the publisher in 2017, fifteen years after its 2002 publication, with the journal saying "This article has been retracted at the request of the Editors-in-Chief after receiving a complaint about anomalies in this paper. The editors solicited further independent reviews which indicated that the definitions in the paper are ambiguous and most results are false. The author was contacted and does not dispute these findings."[19] The journal said they had identified twelve specific errors in the paper, but clarified that they had concluded that the paper's findings were merely inaccurate, not fraudulent.[20][21][22] When contacted by the journal, Biss had responded saying "Thank you for writing. I am no longer in mathematics and so don't feel equipped to fully evaluate these claims. I certainly do not dispute them. If you would like to publish a retraction to that effect, that would seem to me to be an appropriate approach."[20][22]

When the 2017 retraction and the previously identified errors were reported by the Chicago Sun-Times in September 2017, his campaign blamed operatives for the perceived front-runner for the Democratic Party candidate for governor of Illinois, J. B. Pritzker, for raising it as a political issue. They said "Whether it was training at MIT or the University of Chicago, Daniel has had dozens of academic papers reviewed by his peers and published. In a few cases, further research has found that the case posited in the original article didn't stand up, and he revised his findings."[20] They referred to the raising of the issue as "silly opposition research".[20]

Illinois House of Representatives[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Appropriations – Elementary & Secondary Education
  • Personnel & Pensions
  • Consumer Protection
  • Small Business Empowerment & Workforce Development
  • International Trade & Commerce
  • Bio-Technology
  • Appropriations – Higher Education[23]

Electoral history[edit]

Illinois State Representative: Results 2008–2010[24]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2008 Daniel Biss 25,959 48.52% Elizabeth Coulson 27,540 51.48%
2010 Daniel K. Biss 23,134 54.78% Hamilton Chang 19,096 45.22%
Illinois State Senate: Results 2012[24]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2012 Daniel Biss 68,064 66.63% Glenn Farkas 34,081 33.37%

Political views[edit]

Biss at a rally against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018

According to his responses in a 2008 "Political Courage Test", Daniel Biss supports carbon emissions limits and is "pro-choice" (supporting legal access to abortion services). He also supports allowing Illinois high school graduates to pay in-state tuition at public universities regardless of immigration status, as well as state funding to raise the salaries of teachers.[25] He received a 7% rating by the NRA in 2010.[26] Biss has expressed support of labor unions[27] and he received a $20,000 campaign contribution from AFSCME.[28] Biss also supports legalizing marijuana in Illinois.[29]

In 2013, Biss cosponsored SB 1, a bill that aimed to limit the annual growth of retirement annuities within state employee's pension plans in an attempt to reduce debts in the state retirement system.[30] In May 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional.[31] In rejecting the constitutionality of SB 1, the Illinois Supreme Court stated: "These modifications to pension benefits unquestionably diminish the value of the retirement annuities the members…were promised when they joined the pension system. Accordingly, based on the plain language of the Act, these annuity-reducing provisions contravene the pension protection clause's absolute prohibition against diminishment of pension benefits and exceed the General Assembly’s authority," the ruling states.[32] Biss later said that his work on SB 1 was an error, saying "I decided this was the least bad of the bad options. I allowed myself to think we couldn't do better." Biss later expressed support for funding higher pension payments if necessary by instituting a tax system with a graduated income tax and a tax on financial transactions.[33]

In March 2017, Biss sponsored SB 1424, a bill proposing a system of matching state funds for small-donor political contributions[34] and SB 780, a bill proposing to elect a number of statewide offices by ranked-choice ballot.[35] He also co-sponsored SB 1933, a bill by State Sen. Andy Manar to allow for automatic voter registration when applying for an Illinois driver's license.[36]

Biss supports universal health care and advocates specifically for a state-level single-payer healthcare system.[37][38] In June 2017, Biss voted to reinforce the Affordable Care Act in Illinois by prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against customers with pre-existing conditions.[39]


Biss ran for a seat in the Illinois State House of Representatives in 2008, losing to Republican Elizabeth Coulson. Starting in 2009, he then worked as a policy adviser to Pat Quinn, the Democratic governor of Illinois.[14][40][41]

Biss 2018 gubernatorial campaign logo.

On November 10, 2011, Biss announced his intent to run for the Illinois Senate seat held by retiring Senator Jeffrey Schoenberg.[42] He won the election on November 6, 2012, receiving over 66% of the vote,[43] and was sworn in on January 8, 2013.[44]

Biss announced a run for Illinois Comptroller in the 2016 special election[45] but dropped out and endorsed opponent Susana Mendoza.[46]

On March 20, 2017, Biss announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois for the 2018 election on a Facebook Live video, attacking incumbent governor Bruce Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.[47] Biss joined a growing field of Democratic contenders, including businessman Chris Kennedy and Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar.[48]

Biss briefly named Chicago alderman and Democratic Socialists of America member Carlos Ramirez-Rosa as his gubernatorial running mate, but dropped him from the ticket after just six days after Ramirez-Rosa expressed some support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions boycott movement against Israel.[49] Biss later announced his selection of Rockford-based state representative Litesa Wallace, a single mother and former social worker.[50][51]

Biss had been endorsed by many of his colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly, high-profile academics and activists including Nobel laureate Richard Thaler and presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig, National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in the United States, and Our Revolution, the successor organization to Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign.[52][53][54] Biss received two-thirds of preferential votes from Illinois members of the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org.[55]

On March 20, 2018, Biss lost the Democratic primary to J.B. Pritzker. He earned 26.70% of the total vote, behind Prizker with 45.13% and ahead of C.G. Kennedy with 24.37%. Biss carried two counties, McLean and Champaign.[56]

Rust Belt Rising[edit]

On September 18, 2018, Biss announced in an email to supporters that he has accepted the position of executive director of the nonprofit Rust Belt Rising, which aims to train and support Democratic candidates in the Great Lakes states.[57] Biss was succeeded in the Illinois Senate by Laura Fine on January 6, 2019.[58]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hoopes Prizes Awarded to Undergraduates and Thesis Advisers". Harvard Gazette. 28 May 1998. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  2. ^ Biss, Daniel K. (October 2000). "A Generalized Approach to the Fundamental Group" (PDF). The American Mathematical Monthly. Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  3. ^ State Sen. Daniel Biss announces Democratic bid for governor
  4. ^ Jewish candidate for Illinois governor drops running mate over BDS, Jerusalem Post, September 7, 2017.
  5. ^ David Weigel, In Illinois, a Democrat chooses a socialist running mate, then dumps him, Washington Post, September 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Swinkels, Niels (June 12, 2013). "Jonathan Biss: A Super, Human, Musical Mission". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  7. ^ Giovetti, Olivia (January 18, 2011). "Jonathan Biss". Time Out New York. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  8. ^ "Bloomington youth stars in science". Jewish Post, Indianapolis. 22 February 1995. p. 3.
  9. ^ "What does science have to do with the race for governor in Illinois?". Society for Science & the Public. February 21, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Szpiro, George G. (2010). "20: Brilliant but Fallible". A mathematical medley: fifty easy pieces on mathematics. American Mathematical Society. pp. 97–99. ISBN 9780821890646.
  11. ^ Daniel Biss, Clay Mathematics Institute
  12. ^ Institute for Advanced Study: A Community of Scholars
  13. ^ Nir, Oaz (2008). "Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines" (PDF). Notices of the AMS. American Mathematical Society. 55 (9): 1096–98. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  14. ^ a b "Spot the differences between the two Jewish candidates for Illinois governor". The Jerusalem Post. February 26, 2018. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  15. ^ Mnev, N (2007). "On D.K. Biss' papers "The homotopy type of the matroid Grassmannian" and "Oriented matroids, complex manifolds, and a combinatorial model for BU"". arXiv:0709.1291 [math.CO].
  16. ^ Biss, Daniel K. (July 2009). "Erratum to 'The homotopy type of the matroid Grassmannian'" (PDF). Annals of Mathematics. 2nd. 170-1: 493. doi:10.4007/annals.2009.170.493. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  17. ^ Biss, Daniel (June 1, 2009). "Erratum to 'Oriented matroids, complex manifolds, and a combinatorial model for BU' [Adv. Math. 179 (2) (2003) 250–290]". Advances in Mathematics. 221 (2): 681. doi:10.1016/j.aim.2008.12.012.
  18. ^ Biss, Daniel K.; Farb, Benson (October 2009). "Erratum to 'Kg is not finitely generated'". Inventiones Mathematicae. 178 (1): 229. arXiv:math/0405386. Bibcode:2009InMat.178..229B. doi:10.1007/s00222-009-0202-x.
  19. ^ Biss, Daniel K. (15 February 2017). "Retraction notice to 'The topological fundamental group and generalized covering spaces' [Topol. Appl. 124 (3) (2002) 355–371]". Topology and its Applications. 217: 116. doi:10.1016/j.topol.2016.12.016.
  20. ^ a b c d Sfondeles, Tina (September 29, 2017). "Are gov hopeful Biss's claims of math prowess pi in the sky?". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  21. ^ "Journal retracts paper by state senator (and former mathematician)". Retraction Watch. February 13, 2017. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  22. ^ a b "'False' results in retracted paper by senator are inaccurate, not fraudulent, say editors". Retraction Watch. February 23, 2017. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  23. ^ "Representative Daniel Biss (D)". www.ilga.gov. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  24. ^ a b "Election Results". Cook County Board of Elections. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  25. ^ "Daniel Biss' Issue Positions". Project Vote Smart. Philipsburg, Montana: One Common Ground. 2008.
  26. ^ "Daniel K. Biss' Political Summary on Issue: Guns". Project Vote Smart. Philipsburg, Montana: One Common Ground. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  27. ^ "Biss Kicks Off Campaign With 150 Strong" (PDF) (Press release). Evanston, Illinois: Daniel Biss for State Representative. September 14, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2014.
  28. ^ "Wage increases slow, but not campaign contributions". Journal Standard (online ed.). Freeport, Illinois. Illinois Statehouse News. November 9, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  29. ^ "Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Where do the candidates stand on marijuana?". capitolfax.com. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  30. ^ "SB 1 – Amends State Employee Pension Plans – Key Vote". Project Vote Smart. Philipsburg, Montana: One Common Ground. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  31. ^ Pearson, Rick; Geiger, Kim (8 May 2015). "Illinois Supreme Court rules landmark pension law unconstitutional". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  32. ^ http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/pension-reforms-illinois-supreme-court/
  33. ^ "Biss' populist play: Tax LaSalle Street and rethink Amazon HQ2". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  34. ^ "Illinois General Assembly – Bill Status for SB1424". www.ilga.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  35. ^ "Illinois General Assembly – Bill Status for SB0780". www.ilga.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  36. ^ "Illinois General Assembly – Bill Status for SB1933". www.ilga.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  37. ^ Miller, Rich (1 August 2017). "Biss, Pawar respond *** Pritzker outlines Medicaid buy-in idea". capitolfax.com. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  38. ^ "The truth about single-payer". Daniel Biss for Governor. 5 August 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  39. ^ Dugyala, Rishika (14 June 2017). "Biss joins fight to prevent denial of pre-existing conditions in Illinois". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  40. ^ Lai, Jonathan (12 November 2010). "Ex-prof elected state rep". The Chicago Maroon. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  41. ^ "Daniel Biss' Biography". Vote Smart: Facts Matter. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  42. ^ Svitek, Patrick (November 10, 2011). "State Rep. Biss to seek Schoenberg's state Senate seat". The Daily Northwestern.[permanent dead link]
  43. ^ Chang, Chi-an (November 7, 2012). "Biss Wins 9th State Senate District Race". Patch Media. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  44. ^ Robb, Tom (2013-01-09). "Biss Fine Take Oath One Day Early". Journal & Topics. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  45. ^ Pearson, Rick (22 September 2015). "City Clerk Mendoza gets major union backing in state comptroller bid". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  46. ^ Biss, Daniel. "Comptroller Campaign Update". Biss for Illinois (Press release). Evanston, Illinois. Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  47. ^ Pearson, Rick (March 20, 2017). "State Sen. Daniel Biss announces Democratic bid for governor". chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  48. ^ Schulte, Sarah (20 March 2017). "State Sen. Biss says he's running for Illinois governor". ABC7 Chicago. Archived from the original on 20 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  49. ^ Smith, Ryan. "Ramirez-Rosa dumped off the Biss ticket in six days; denies flip-flop on Israel issue". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  50. ^ Vinicky, Amanda. "Daniel Biss Replaces Ramirez-Rosa with Rep. Litesa Wallace". Chicago Tonight | WTTW. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  51. ^ "Biss formally announces Litesa Wallace as new running mate". capitolfax.com. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  52. ^ "Who's on Team Biss?". Daniel Biss for Governor. Biss for Illinois. 6 November 2017. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  53. ^ Pedersen, Brendan (30 January 2018). "Biss Lands Major Progressive Group's Endorsement". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  54. ^ "Our Revolution Endorses Daniel Biss for Governor of Illinois". Our Revolution. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  55. ^ Payne, Benjamin (25 January 2018). "Daniel Biss Lands MoveOn.org Endorsement For Illinois Governor". WVIK. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  56. ^ "Official Canvas, General Primary Election, March 20, 2018" (PDF). Illinois State Board of Elections.
  57. ^ Meadows, Jonah (18 September 2018). "Sen. Daniel Biss To Head Democratic Candidate Training Nonprofit". Evanston, IL Patch. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  58. ^ "Fine sworn in as State Senator". Illinois Senate Democrats. 2019-01-07. Retrieved 2019-02-02.

External links[edit]