President Barack Obama listens to William Daley after introducing his new chief of staff in January at the White House. | JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Updated: June 27, 2013 6:47AM
Bill Daley, time to pull the trigger.
I say this because almost no one, anymore, is talking about Daley’s rumored run for governor. All conversation is consumed by the WWLD question.
And who knows what Lisa would do?
Lisa Madigan, the attorney general, has in recent years been as Hamlet-like as Daley on the “to be or not to be” front. Twice he’s almost launched a run for governor, in 2002 and 2010, only to pull back. And she’s contemplated two higher offices — for governor or U.S. Senate. But demurred despite a full-court press from the Obama White House.
If Illinois Democrats are determined to march into a bloody primary war with their own incumbent governor, Pat Quinn, better to do it in Braveheart fashion. Because trying to dump your own guy who topped your own ticket, regardless of his current public unpopularity, will require energy, focus, and, most of all, passion.
“The question is, at this stage is it a Don Quixote thing?” Daley asked rhetorically by phone on Friday.
Let’s run through the checklist of his life.
Son and brother to mayors Richard J. and Richard M.
Commerce Secretary under Clinton.
White House chief of staff for Obama.
Roundly considered the most politically astute of the Daley boys, he is a practical, strategic, behind-the-scenes political player.
And yet, he’s always had an urge to run.
Long ago, Daley had his eye on the congressional seat of the late Frank Annunzio. His candidacy never materialized.
The itch is yet to be scratched. But again he asks rhetorically, “How do you, in a practical way, pull it off?”
Especially when more women than men vote in the Democratic primary.
“Two men and a woman, we’ve seen that movie before,” he said.
Yes and no.
In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun beat two men for the Senate.
But in 1983, then-mayor Jane Byrne went down in flames against two men.
Every movie has a different plot.
For now, both Daley and Madigan wait in the wings as the General Assembly dithers on dire matters. (I don’t need to remind you, do I, that Madigan’s father is speaker of the Illinois House and head of the Illinois Democratic Party?)
As the session draws to a close, there remains no resolution on what to do with the state’s nearly $100 billion pension debt.
“My guess,” says Daley, “if they don’t do this pension deal, then you got a meltdown and then people say throw them all out.”
I say put them all in. Quinn. Madigan. Daley. Illinois is in a world of hurt. All three Democrats can make their case to primary voters.
Quinn’s in. It’s Daley and Madigan being coy about hitting the dance floor.
“What the hell, just go do it,” is what one side of Daley’s brain tells him. “Forget our odds, forget you may win [or lose], go through it for a long shot and be listened to.”
Practicality without passion is thin gruel.
Why wait for Lisa to decide?
Pull the trigger.