Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley announced Tuesday he is forming a committee to explore running for governor in 2014, saying Illinois deserves political leaders who are prepared to fix the state's unemployment, pensions and education woes.
The committee allows the Chicago Democrat to begin raising money for a challenge to Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn.
In a video posted online Tuesday morning, Daley ripped the Legislature and Quinn for the "disastrous" legislative session that ended last month. He pointed to their failure to fix Illinois' $97 billion pension crisis, as well as inaction on legalizing same-sex marriage and "protecting our kids from illegal guns."
"We can no longer stand idly by while our pension debt bankrupts our schools and robs our children of a better future," Daley said. "From the stinging injustice of inequality to the painful toll of unemployment, the people of Illinois are paying a perilous price for political failure. We need solutions. We need action. We need leadership that gets things done. And the people of Illinois can't wait."
The announcement sets up what could be one of the most intriguing Democratic primaries in the country. Quinn has said he will run for re-election. He could also face a challenge from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the daughter of the powerful House speaker Michael Madigan.
Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner announced last week they are running. GOP state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady also are considering bids.
If Daley stays in the race, it would be the first run for public office for the son and brother of two of Chicago's most famous and powerful mayors. He has also served as trusted adviser to two presidents, first as Bill Clinton's commerce secretary and then as Barack Obama's chief of staff after Rahm Emanuel left the post to make a successful run to succeed Richard M. Daley as mayor.
The 64-year-old Daley is the latest son of the Richard J. Daley, the legendary iron-fisted mayor of Chicago, to run for office, joining his brothers, Richard and John.
Richard M. Daley served as mayor for 22 years, longer than any other mayor in city history, including his father, before retiring in 2011. And John Daley is a longtime member of the county's board of commissioners.
A successful attorney and businessman, William Daley spent years as a Democratic operative, working both publicly and behind the scenes in city, state and national politics. Co-chairman of the host committee for the 1996 Democratic National Convention, Daley was tapped by Clinton in his first term to push the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement through Congress. After the election, he was named Secretary of Commerce, serving between January 30, 1997 and July 19, 2000.
In the Obama administration, when Daley's brother decided not to seek a seventh term as mayor of Chicago and Emanuel decided to step down as White House chief of staff and run to succeed him, Obama selected Daley to succeed Emanuel.
He announced his resignation in January 2012, just a year after taking the job.