Former Gov. Pat Quinn not running for Chicago mayor

Former Gov. Pat Quinn not running for Chicago mayor

Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will pass on a run for Chicago mayor, closing the door on a long-shot bid for City Hall’s top job amid a crowded field of contenders vying to unseat first-term incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot next year, he said Thursday.

“After much thought, I decided not to run for mayor of Chicago,” Quinn said at a news conference that he promoted a day earlier, when he didn’t indicate whether he’d run or not.

Before the reveal, Quinn said that supporters across Illinois are clamoring for change and relief, listing cities from suburban Skokie to East St. Louis: “I decided: Well, there’s a lot of people outside Chicago who asked me to help them.”

Quinn said he talked to all mayoral candidates, including Lightfoot, and said he sees the “good” in all of them. But he also declined to endorse anyone just yet.

“I want to organize,” Quinn said. “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize.”

Still, Quinn did ding certain aspects of Lightfoot’s record, such as her lack of enthusiasm for his efforts to ask voters about setting a two-term limit for the mayor.

“I’m disappointed very much, and I’ve told her I’m very disappointed in Mayor Lightfoot not putting that on the ballot. She said that she was for term limits on the mayor,” Quinn said regarding the mayor’s previous campaign promise.

He also critiqued her administration’s opposition to the Anjanette Young ordinance, which would reform search warrant executions and is named after the Black social worker forced to stand handcuffed and naked in her home during a wrongful Chicago police raid. He also called on Lightfoot to relinquish some of her power over the City Council and allow aldermen more say on the choice of committee chairs as well as when bills are called up.

Quinn did not say whether any of those issues would be deal breakers on who he might endorse, including Lightfoot.

Even though Quinn won’t run, the mayor’s race remains a crowded field with Lightfoot, U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García , Ald. Sophia King, activist Ja’Mal Green, Ald. Roderick Sawyer, former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas, state Rep. Kambium “Kam” Buckner, Ald. Raymond Lopez, business owner Willie Wilson and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson all announcing their intention to run.

Filing to run in the Feb. 28 election begins Monday and lasts one week. If no one gets more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will take place April 4.

Before the announcement, Quinn attempted to keep the public in suspense. He called the news conference with a statement that touted the arc of his political career, from his first petition drive in 1976 to future aspirations of championing more referendums, property tax relief and ethics.

During the news conference, he frequently pushed the importance of ballot initiatives and promised his next project will be spearheading a “taxpayer advocate” referendum to tackle “way too high” property levies in the city.

“It’s important that we understand that voters in our city, whatever their walk of life, have good common sense and they know how to reform things,” Quinn said. “They have ideals, they believe in democracy, and all these candidates running for mayor, I hope, get infused with that spirit.”

Quinn made his announcement at the Allegro Hotel, a historic Chicago hotel that has been the site of scores of Quinn news conferences for decades. It sits across the street from City Hall and kitty-corner from the Thompson Center, the former seat of state government in Chicago where Quinn had offices while he was lieutenant governor and later governor.

Quinn, who lost his 2014 gubernatorial campaign for reelection to Republican business owner Bruce Rauner, spent weeks collecting petitions to run for Chicago mayor before ultimately deciding to not run.

First elected to the Cook County Board of Appeals in 1982, Quinn has run for a series of offices over the years and ultimately succeeded in 2002 when he was elected lieutenant governor alongside Rod Blagojevich’s successful bid for governor. In 2009, Quinn became the state’s chief executive when Blagojevich was indicted by federal prosecutors on corruption charges and then weeks later impeached and ousted by state legislators.

Quinn in 2010 won election as governor, narrowly defeating Republican Bill Brady of Bloomington, but lost four years later to Rauner.

Although Quinn is well known throughout the city and state, he hasn’t found much political success in recent years, losing a primary bid to succeed Lisa Madigan as Illinois attorney general and failing to gain traction with mayoral term-limit efforts.

Still, Quinn is a vigorous campaigner with higher name recognition than most of his rivals and could have caused problems for Lightfoot among some voters, including those on the city’s North Side.

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