William Daley's gubernatorial announcement this week has shaken up Democratic Party politics.
The pulses of political reporters all over the state quickened Monday when William Daley, the son and brother of Chicago's two Mayor Daleys, announced that he's formed an exploratory committee to run for governor. A Daley spokesman, Peter Giangreco, later said that the exploratory nature of the committee was merely nomenclature, that Daley is in the race to stay.
Either Daley knows something few other people know, or he's setting himself up for a bruising and highly entertaining Democratic Party primary fight with incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, daughter of all-powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Madigan responded to Daley's announcement by indicating that she hasn't made up her mind yet about running and downplaying the idea that she must decide any time soon.
"It's June of 2013. The next governor won't be sworn in until January of 2015," she said.
Madigan's dates are accurate, but misleading. Here are the months that matter.
The filing period is in December 2013. The primary election is in March 2014. She can prattle on all she wants about the swearing-in ceremonies, but Madigan won't be there to be sworn in as governor unless she files for governor and wins the primary.
The conventional wisdom among politicos has been that it's only a matter of time before Madigan gets in the governor's race. Her indecision had paralyzed other candidates who were interested in the governor's race or in succeeding her as attorney general. Just this week, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart showed he was tired of waiting for Madigan to decide and announced he'll run for re-election rather than seek than the Democratic nomination for attorney general.
Daley was among those sitting on the fence. Then, whether out of instinct or special insight, he jumped in the race for governor.
The polls would indicate that Madigan would win any primary race for governor, whether it's against Quinn or both Daley and Quinn. But all bets are off once the candidates start lobbing ugly radio and TV commercials against each other, and their rival organizations warm up their campaign ground games.
It would be a bloodbath without precedent in Illinois politics — the scions of two cutthroat organizations going mano a mano. It sounds too good to be true, and it may be.