Daley Abruptly Exits Ill. Gov Race, Ceding Nomination to Quinn

CHICAGO (AP) -
Bill Daley at a press conference Tuesday in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Bill Daley at a press conference Tuesday in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

A day after dropping out of the 2014 race for Illinois governor, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley dismissed any notion Tuesday that he couldn’t have defeated Gov. Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary.

Daley said he believed he could continue to raise the funds and had the statewide support, including in downstate Illinois where the family name of the son and brother of two longtime Chicago mayors may not play out well.

“As a part of a family that has public service in its blood and a family of which I am extremely proud, I’ve always be motivate as each of them to serve,” he said Tuesday. “This race was a very doable race for me.”

He was less clear about his reasons for dropping out. He only said there was an “enormity” to being a candidate he didn’t realize previously and that Illinois needs a strong leader to help solve its monstrous financial problems — including the nation’s worst-funded pension system.

“I’ve lost sleep … and struggling over the last couple weeks over whether or not what’s needed I can provide over a long period,” he said. “It’s not about a campaign of six months or 14 months. It really is about a minimum of five to nine years to begin to straighten out this state.”

Daley’s exit leaves no major Democratic challenger to Quinn in next year’s primary. Quinn’s lone remaining opponent for the Democratic nomination was Tio Hardiman, the former director of a Chicago anti-violence advocacy group, CeaseFire. He said he is staying in the race, but acknowledged that he lacks the governor’s name recognition and resources.

Quinn didn’t publicly comment on Daley’s withdrawal, but his campaign issued a statement late Monday saying a “divisive primary would have only helped Republicans.”

“He’s got an open road now,” said political analyst Thom Serafin, speaking of Quinn. “He can take his time in making decisions for his campaign, and he has more time to focus on governing the state.”

Daley, who was denounced by Quinn last week as a “millionaire banker,” didn’t miss a chance to take a dig at the governor, saying he didn’t think Quinn could win the 2014 election against the Republican candidate.