In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Tribune, former Obama chief of staff Bill Daley said he was dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Daley entered the race 4 months ago when it looked like current Governor Pat Quinn was vulnerable due to the astonishing mismanagement of state finances, especially the pension funds which threaten to bring financial Armageddon to the state.
Even in departing from the Democratic primary race, Daley said he would not endorse Quinn for re-election.
Daley, a member of two White House administrations, a presidential campaign manager and the son and brother of two former Chicago mayors, dropped out of the race less than four months after declaring his political resume gave him the best credentials to replace Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
"One of the things I always thought in my career that I wanted to do, I thought I would be able to have that opportunity, I hoped, would be to run for office. And even though you're around it for a long time, you really don't get a sense of the enormity of it until you get into it," Daley told the Tribune.
"But the last six weeks or so have been really tough on me, struggling with this. Is this really me? Is this really what I want to spend my next five to nine years doing? And is this the best thing for me to do at this stage of my life?" he said. "I've come to the conclusion that this isn't the best thing for me."
Well said, except it is entirely bogus. Daley forced out of the campaign the strongest candidate challenging Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, daughter of the state's speaker of the House. But in the end, Daley saw a very long, expensive, and probably losing effort to unseat the incumbent:
Of course, Quinn's political luck arguably peaked in 2009. Then lieutenant governor, Quinn ascended to the state's top office after Rod Blagojevich was brought up on criminal charges, and the General Assembly booted him from his post.
Still, Quinn faces stiff challenges in coming months, including leading those within his own party. He continues to face a pension debacle that has meant billions of dollars in unpaid bills as well as $100 billion in pension debt.
"I don't know if there is any white knight who can save the Democratic party at this point," state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) a frequent Quinn critic. "I don't see a path to victory."
But those who know Quinn say his strength as a campaigner and populist appeal shouldn't be underestimated. Democrats say Quinn had already worked Downstate voters far more successfully than Daley.
Quinn also already notched support from the Cook County Democratic Organization, County Chairmen's Association and this week Quinn was facing an impending endorsement from the State of Illinois Democratic Party.
Just this weekend, Quinn quickly got under Daley's skin by casting Daley a millionaire banker.
"Pat is a tough, experienced candidate who has won and lost and been around this track many times," said political strategist David Axelrod, who stressed he was friends with both Daley and Quinn. "Pat was left for dead four years ago. He won a primary people thought he would lose and a tough general election that people thought couldn't win. People shouldn't underestimate him."
Among Democrats downstate, the Daley name is not the advantage it is upstate. Some politicos believed that Daley would have had to win Cook County by nearly 2-1 as well as receive 55% or more in the collar counties upstate in order to offset Quinn's advantage downstate. That's a tall order against an incumbent who has the endorsement of the Cook County political machine.
Quinn is vulnerable only if the GOP stops its infighting and unites around a candidate. Otherwise, even though he's damaged goods, Quinn is likely to squeak through and win another term in this very Democratic state.