Former White House Chief-of-Staff Bill Daley has a history of flirting with running for governor and U.S. senator only to back off in the end, but he said Thursday he's "not teasing this time."
Daley said he's seriously considering the race--and promising a final decision within a week--because of the Il. General Assembly's stunning failure to address the state's $100 billlion pension crisis.
"I'm not teasing this time...I've looked at this in a serious way over the last number of months. But, after the debacle Friday, as a Democrat, I look at this and say, `What is going on here?'...This is beyond the pale," Daley said Thursday.
"The governor is a good, decent honest man. After the Blagojevich fiasco, his honesty is what was needed, obviously. But, we also need to get things done. And that's what's been lacking."
Much of the blame has been pinned on House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and their inability to resolve the differences between their rival pension reform plans.
But, Daley pinned the tail on another donkey--the symbol for Democrats: Pat Quinn.
"The governor drives the compromise. He doesn't stand on the side and wait for the legislators to get to it," Daley said taping "Connected to Chicago," to be broadcast at 6 a.m. Sunday on WLS AM and FM Radio.
"At the end of the session, when [Quinn was] standing there and saying, `I'm gonna get the leaders together,' why weren't the leaders together 24/7 in the [governor's] mansion all last week in a bi-partisan way?"
Daley said Pat Quinn has been around too long to escape blame for the state's festering problems.
"The governor has been the No. 1 or No. 2 highest-elected official for the last 12 years. Some people may say, `Well, when he was the No. 2, he didn't have anything to do.' But, he still took a paycheck from people. And I don't necessarily buy that the No. 2 highest-elected person in the state should be irrelevant governing the state," he said.
Daley made his comments on the day that the all-important bond rating that determines state borrowing costs suffered its second drop this week. On Monday, Fitch downgraded Illinois. On Thursday, Moody's did the same, citing Illinois' worst-in-the nation pension system.
"This dysfunction and sort of chaos that seems to be reigning down there without any real leadership is having an enormous effect on people--in a negative way," Daley said.
"Whether they feel it yet [is uncertain]. But, every time there's a downgrade, every time there's not a solution to the pension situation or the fiscal situation, it costs taxpayers. They got whacked pretty hard a while ago with the [income] tax increase. And they've got to be asking themselves right now, as I do, what was that about?"
For months, Daley appeared to be waiting in the wings for Il. Attorney General Lisa Madigan to decide whether or not she will enter the 2014 race for governor. Daley's popularity has paled by comparison to the speaker's daughter in early public opinion polls.
But, Daley sounded Thursday like a candidate-in-waiting who's getting tired of waiting. Without mentioning the Madigan's by name or the potential, father-daughter conflict, he said, "I'm not gonna worry about other people and other potential candidacies."
But, what about the Daley name? It doesn't have the political cache that it used to have after the parking meter debacle, the Hired Truck, city hiring and minority contracting scandals and the indictment of the mayor nephew.
On Thursday, Bill Daley said he's not concerned about being the target of ricochet anger from Illinois voters.
"I've lived my life knowing that there's good and bad in many peoples' opinions because of my name. My father dedicated many years to the city. My brother did the same. Some people thought they were great. Some people thought they were terrible," he said.
"I love my dad. I love my brother. I'm not them. We're all different in many ways. And, if I was to do this, the only way you'd win is if people thought you had some vision for going forward--not worrying about 40 years ago when my dad was there or three years ago or 20 years ago when Rich was there....I would hope that most people are reasonable [enough] to say, `Judge this guy on what he may bring to the table, not what a father or brother brought to the table in a very different job.' "