A rare intra-party battle began taking shape Tuesday among big-name Democrats in Illinois, as former White House chief of staff Bill Daley positioned himself to try to unseat a governor he blames for failing to resolve the state's financial crisis and other pressing issues.
Daley, an adviser to two presidents who hails from Chicago's most famous political dynasty but has never run for office, ripped Gov. Pat Quinn and the Legislature for a "disastrous" session that ended last month. He pointed to their failure to fix Illinois' $97 billion pension crisis as well as inaction on legalizing same-sex marriage and "protecting our kids from illegal guns."
"We need leadership that gets things done," Daley said in a videotaped announcement that he had opened an exploratory committee allowing him to raise money. A spokesman said he was "100 percent in" the race.
The emerging Democratic primary could be one of the most closely watched in the nation, potentially pitting members of Illinois' political royal families against one another as President Barack Obama's home state struggles with multibillion-dollar debt, the nation's worst state pension crisis and the lowest credit rating of any state in the country.
Daley is the son and brother of two of Chicago's most powerful mayors. Attorney General Lisa Madigan – the daughter of the longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, a man seen as the state's most powerful politician – also is a potential candidate. She said Tuesday she's still "very seriously considering" a bid.
Daley strategist Pete Giangreco said he's in the race regardless of what Madigan decides.
Daley would be the third candidate to make his run known since the Illinois Legislature adjourned for the session late last month without acting on some of the state's biggest issues, making Quinn more vulnerable and giving candidates fuel for a campaign launch.
Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner last week announced that they're running. GOP state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady also are considering bids.
Photo: Screengrab BillDaleyIllinois.com)