With Bill Daley now out of race, the mighty Pat Quinn is mighty lucky once again
BY NATASHA KORECKI AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters September 16, 2013 9:52PM
Gov. Pat Quinn speaks at The Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip in July. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:37AM
It’s official. Pat Quinn is the luckiest person in Illinois politics.
The incumbent governor who is lagging in opinion polls and heading a state in the midst of a fiscal crisis, is on a path to coast to a March 2014 Democratic Primary victory without spending a nickel of his campaign cash.
Just a few months ago, Quinn faced the possibility of a three-way primary that included a female opponent with the strongest poll numbers in the state and a male opponent who recently was out-raising the governor.
First, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who had the most money and the strongest polling of the three, dropped out. She ducked out in part due to pressure that candidate Bill Daley had placed on her running while her father continued to be speaker of the Illinois House.
Then late Monday, Daley, who in recent weeks had been raising campaign cash at a faster clip than Quinn, withdrew from the race.
Barring any last-minute major Democratic candidate, Quinn is to reach the general election unscathed against a beaten and bruised Republican. There are four Republicans who are battling for the GOP nomination.
Of course, Quinn’s political luck arguably peaked in 2009. Then lieutenant governor, Quinn ascended to the state’s top office after Rod Blagojevich was brought up on criminal charges, and the General Assembly booted him from his post.
Still, Quinn faces stiff challenges in coming months, including leading those within his own party. He continues to face a pension debacle that has meant billions of dollars in unpaid bills as well as $100 billion in pension debt.
“I don’t know if there is any white knight who can save the Democratic party at this point,” state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) a frequent Quinn critic. “I don’t see a path to victory.”
But those who know Quinn say his strength as a campaigner and populist appeal shouldn’t be underestimated. Democrats say Quinn had already worked Downstate voters far more successfully than Daley.
Quinn also already notched support from the Cook County Democratic Organization, County Chairmen’s Association and this week Quinn was facing an impending endorsement from the State of Illinois Democratic Party.
Just this weekend, Quinn quickly got under Daley’s skin by casting Daley a millionaire banker.
“Pat is a tough, experienced candidate who has won and lost and been around this track many times,” said political strategist David Axelrod, who stressed he was friends with both Daley and Quinn. “Pat was left for dead four years ago. He won a primary people thought he would lose and a tough general election that people thought couldn’t win. People shouldn’t underestimate him.”