CHICAGO —Democrat Bill Daley’s decision to quit the governor’s race in Illinois provided a measure of clarity Tuesday for both political parties heading into the 2014 elections.
Democrats get a measure of unity, no longer having to worry about significant primary contests for governor or any other statewide race. Gov. Pat Quinn gets to save his campaign cash for the fall campaign.
Republicans get a single target on which to focus their attacks: a governor of lukewarm popularity they view as highly vulnerable. Still, a four-way March primary remains and the Republican governor hopefuls risk endangering their own electability in the general election as they spend the next six months trying to appeal to traditionally more conservative primary voters.
Daley did not go quietly Tuesday as he closed the books on his primary campaign of less than four months. Instead, the lifelong Democrat helped amplify the Republican case that Quinn is unelectable in November 2014.
“One of my, maybe, failings in life is that I’m awfully honest with you people. And because I haven’t had the role of an elected official or a candidate, I’ve been pretty blunt. So, forgive me for being honest,” Daley said. He joked that his belief Quinn can’t win re-election was based on his “political genius,” but added, “I’ll be proven either a genius or an idiot” by the voters.
Quinn, who dodged Democratic primary challenges from not only Daley but from Lisa Madigan, the attorney general and daughter of powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, was uncharacteristically silent. The governor made no public appearances as his march to the nomination suddenly has grown easier, though Quinn has scheduled a Wednesday event where he’s expected to be asked about Daley’s parting shot.
The March 18 primary is shaping up to be a dull one for Democrats, with none of the statewide contests expected to feature serious competition, pending any unexpected actions through the candidacy filing season that ends in early December.