Daley debacle gives Quinn lift

Daley debacle gives Quinn lift

A member of Chicago's Daley family with no stomach for retail politics? Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Chicago Democrat William Daley has been telling people for months that he wanted to become governor to help get Illinois out of its unprecedented jam.

But it turns out that while he wanted to be governor, Daley didn't want to run for governor.

Given that political reality, he announced Monday that he's ending his campaign for the Democratic Party's nomination for governor, even though Daley said incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is in "bad shape" politically and Illinois is in "deep doo doo."

So much for the call to duty that Daley, the son and brother of Chicago's two Mayor Daleys, cited when he announced a few months back that he was running — come hell or high water. But that was back when Daley apparently thought he could scare Attorney General Lisa Madigan out of the race and then walk over incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn in the March 2014 primary.

Unfortunately for Daley, a veteran politico but an inexperienced candidate, Chicago, the personal political playground of the Daley family, is not Illinois. Running for governor requires talking to and shaking hands with the rabble outside Cook County, raising money and fighting off rivals who want the job. Daley now admits he viewed that challenge through rose-colored glasses.

"I've thought about elective office as sort of the crowning thing that I'd do. It's one thing to think about it, another thing to do it," Daley said.

Two thoughts come to mind as Daley's train wreck of a campaign comes to a screeching halt.

Give him credit for honestly admitting that he doesn't have the required "fire in the belly" to run, that all-consuming desire to do whatever it takes to win an ego-gratifying election to high office. He might just be normal.

But the withdrawal also demonstrates Daley's now-deflated sense of entitlement. He expected to be handed the gubernatorial nomination on a silver platter, to be crowned in effect. When Quinn started calling Daley names like "millionaire banker" and suggesting Daley played a role in the near-collapse in 2008 of the housing and banking industries, Daley couldn't take it. His admission that he was "deeply offended" by Quinn's attack revealed a thin-skinned elitist.

After Daley's withdrawal, The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Gov. Quinn ranks as the "luckiest" politician in state history. Quinn has had his share of good political fortune, but he makes much of his own luck.

An unprincipled political brawler and demagogue, Quinn became governor after former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment because he had forced himself on establishment Democrats to win the lieutenant governor's office. Quinn was perceived as a loser in the 2010 governor's race, yet managed to run a vigorous campaign and eke out a win.

Considered dead political meat in the upcoming primary, he'll now win in a walk. Then, rested and with an overflowing campaign war chest, Quinn will be ready to take on the winner of a bruising four-way fight for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Establishment politicians — both Democrat and Republican — may heap scorn on Quinn. But he's the one standing tall in the saddle, at least for now.

Daley's withdrawal is undeniable bad news for the GOP. Republicans had hoped the Democrats would have to endure the same kind of tough, divisive, expensive primary election they face.

Still, the opportunity to win is there because the state is in such sorry shape. Of course, that also was the case four years ago, when Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Time will tell. In politics, as Daley demonstrated, circumstances can change in a hurry.

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