Bill Daley abruptly ended his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor today, telling the Tribune that a lifetime in politics had not prepared him for the “enormity” of his first run for office and the challenge of leading the state through difficult times.
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.”
Daley’s stunning decision to drop out of the race could give Quinn a virtually free shot at winning nomination for re-election in March. But with the primary filing deadline in early December, he said some other Democrat should step forward to challenge Quinn’s bid for a second elected term.
Daley said he still believed Quinn was a weak candidate who would lose the November 2014 general election to a Republican.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Pat Quinn will not be the next governor of Illinois,” said Daley. “This governor is not that strong that somebody should fear running against him.”
Daley, who will turn 65 in August, said he was not dropping his bid because of health concerns, family illness or other issues. Though some important Democrats privately questioned whether Daley could win the primary, he maintained he was not dropping the race out of fear of losing but because of the potential for winning it.
“To be honest with you, losing it wasn’t the worst of my fears. In many ways, winning it and having the commitment of five years to nine years was something I struggled with,” he said. “You know, the dog catches the tire and, boom.”