Even as Hillary Clinton declared him the "luckiest politician" in the world, Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday wasn't publicly exhaling about former challenger Bill Daley dropping out of the Democratic primary.
Instead, Quinn said he expects to face a test from whomever emerges from the Republican field.
"I know there are four Republican candidates. They're not referring to me as a loving son of a loving mother today or in the future, so we'll have a stern contest and that's good for the public," Quinn said in his first public comments since Daley announced he was quitting the governor campaign on Monday.
The reset of the governor's race even drew the attention of former Secretary of State Clinton, a Park Ridge native who was in town for a speech at a charity fundraising luncheon for Chicago House. Quinn, she joked, "has just been entered into the Guinness World Records book as luckiest politician."
Before Clinton's speech, Quinn was asked about his good political fortune and chalked it up to hard work.
Clinton's remark was gentler than the parting shot taken by Daley, a former White House chief of staff, as he exited the political stage this week. Daley suggested Quinn couldn't win the November 2014 general election.
Asked about Daley's comments Wednesday, Quinn turned to the same populist rhetoric he'd already been using against his former challenger, who has spent time as a banking and telecommunications executive.
"Anybody can say their opinion," the governor said. "My job is to work hard for folks who aren't big shots.
"I work for everyday people, folks who don't have champions and friends in high places. They're the heart and soul of Illinois."
The governor also shrugged off Daley's refusal to endorse him as he dropped out. It's unlikely the lack of a Daley endorsement will hurt Quinn in next year's elections.
"The bottom line is it's the voters who call the shots," said Quinn, who spoke before a stay-in-school education event with NBA Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
Quinn also remained mum on a running mate, saying he hasn't "made a final choice. I'll take some time to do that."
Without a major primary challenger, Quinn can focus on the general election campaign a year from now. He'll face the winner of the March 18 primary. Major candidates include state Sens. Bill Brady of Bloomington and Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, wealthy equity investor Bruce Rauner and Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Also Wednesday, former House Republican leader Tom Cross formally kicked off his run for state treasurer. The veteran lawmaker from Oswego stepped down from his leadership role to seek the office that's being vacated by Rutherford. DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan also intends to run in the GOP treasurer primary.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun