McHENRY – At a business luncheon in McHenry on Wednesday, Bill Daley outlined goals for the next governor of Illinois but stopped short of announcing he would run for the position.
“All I'm saying is what I've been saying for a while; I'm seriously looking at it,” he told the Northwest Herald after Wednesday's lunch. “There are some good people that are looking at it also. The state's got to change.”
But Daley took an opportunity to size up his potential challenger, current Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
“It's not easy to beat the incumbent governor,” Daley said. “It's only happened once in my lifetime in a primary. [Quinn] has great resources to put together a campaign, and Pat is a good, decent person. I just think that if you look over the last 12 years and say he's been the No. 1 and No. 2 highest elected official in the state for 12 years – and what's happened to the state – we just need some change.”
Daley said that he plans to make a decision in the next 60 days on whether to run.
Daley, former chief of staff to President Barack Obama and chairman of JP Morgan Chase Midwest, said that Illinois' “fiscal soundness” must be priority No. 1 for whoever is elected the state's next governor.
“Nothing else can you really address until you get that together,” Daley said. “It isn't just the pensions. The pensions are a big piece of it right now. You've got $9 billion of not for profits and companies that are owned money by the state.
“I think if I was to do this, you have to lay out some specifics to people. Say, 'Here's what I'm going to do.'”
During his speech to McHenry County business owners, Daley touched on some of those specifics, such as creating middle-class breaks.
But he didn't mince words when describing Illinois financial state. He called Illinois a “fiscal mess” and said the income gap between the rich and the poor in the state was “shameful.”
“Like a lot of people, I'm amazed at how dysfunctional the state government continues to be year after year,” he said. "The same old political fights. The same old bickering. Nothing seems to get done. It's the opposite of governing.”