SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois voters got a peek Monday at what a 2014 gubernatorial primary might look like, as Gov. Pat Quinn and his potential toughest Democratic challenger played up their individual efforts to help the housing market bounce back and offered differing takes on the state's concealed carry discussions.
Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan -- who said she's still mulling a decision on if she'll run -- separately addressed the Illinois Housing Leaders Conference in Springfield.
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Quinn detailed state agency efforts with a focus on work to get veterans housing, while Madigan touted her office's legal efforts to take on the banking industry, including a large 2011 settlement with a Bank of America subsidiary over allegations of discriminatory loans.
The ongoing work "at times feels like it has become my life's mission to save homes and rebuild our housing market in the wake of the mortgage crisis that turned into a devastating foreclosure crisis," Madigan told the group, which includes real estate agents. Her office sued Countrywide Financial Corp. in 2010, which helped lead to a $335 million national settlement the following year.
Quinn, a Chicago Democrat like Madigan, praised his own housing authority and real estate agents as the "heart and soul" of neighborhoods.
"We have to work together to help everyday people," he said. "Realtors ... are on the front line."
While both Madigan and Quinn declined to discuss 2014 politics, the dueling speeches offered up a glimpse of a Democratic primary. If Madigan jumps in, she would prove a formidable challenger to Quinn. Madigan, a third term attorney general, has name recognition, a recent fundraising advantage and is daughter of House Speaker Michael Madigan, the head of the Democratic Party in Illinois. Quinn, who has seen approval ratings dip, won the 2010 election by a thin margin.
The two have disagreed on how Illinois should approach legal challenges to its last-in-the-nation concealed carry law.
Illinois lawmakers have until early June to work out concealed carry laws after a federal appeals court said Illinois' ban was unconstitutional.
Quinn has said he wants Madigan to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Madigan has said she hasn't decided on her next step and plans to wait and see what lawmakers do.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to take up a challenge to a strict New York law that makes it difficult for residents to get a license to carry a concealed handgun in public. The court did not comment in turning away an appeal from five state residents and the Second Amendment Foundation.
Madigan said that decision gives her office insight on how it might position a challenge, but for now lawmakers have a deadline and the ruling could inform their work. She wouldn't discuss in detail how the court decision would affect a possible appeal.
"We'll sit down and do some more analysis," she said.
Quinn said New York, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, is a model for Illinois.
"That's actually good news," Quinn said of the decision.
Other Democrats who might run include former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, the brother of former longtime Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. On the Republican side, potential candidates are U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford and state Sen. Bill Brady.
In recent months, Quinn and Madigan have been furiously fundraising, but Madigan has a wide lead. She raised more than $750,000 in the most recent quarter, adding to the $3.6 million she had on hand at the end of 2012. Quinn ended last year with just over $1 million and has raised more than $550,000 since then.