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Daley On Dropping Out: ‘Not A Fear Of Losing’

Bill Daley announces he's dropping out of the 2014 race for governor. (Credit: CBS)

Bill Daley announces he’s dropping out of the 2014 race for governor. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Bill Daley might have decided against challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in next year’s election, but as he dropped out of the race Tuesday, he made it clear he believes he could have won.

“This was not a fear of losing. Trust me, that was not a fear,” Daley said Tuesday morning, a day after his campaign revealed he was dropping out. “It became not … about winning or losing. You know, and I’ve had family members who’ve lost elections, and I’ve had losses well beyond the impact of an election loss, so that’s not scary to me.”

Daley said he’s confident he could have defeated Quinn in the Democratic primary, and won out in the general election against any of the four announced Republican candidates.

“I’ve made my opinion of Pat Quinn pretty clear over the last number of months, and I think you’ve just got to look at the record, and the voters will decide – going forward – his future,” he said.

He pointed to Quinn’s inability to hammer out a pension reform plan in Springfield, and the scandal over spending on renovations at the State Capitol building as big hurdles for Quinn.

However, Daley’s campaign had taken some hits of its own, particularly when Quinn was backed by the Cook County Democratic organization his father had once controlled with an iron grip.

Daley said, after a lot of lost sleep over the past few weeks, he simply decided a run for governor, and a commitment to four to eight years in office, was not for him. He said it came down to one question.

“Was this the right thing for me to do, and to the best of my skills, over the next number of years, that I feel excited about doing,” Daley said. “I love public service, I love all that, but I think you’ve got to do an analysis of is this the right thing for you to be doing, and is this what makes you happy in life?”

WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Daley had been struggling in early polling against Quinn, who managed to counter every attack from Daley by embracing his populist image, and gathered support from most of the state’s Democratic committeemen, who command the party’s political troops.

Daley — the son and brother of two longtime Chicago mayors — said he was offended when the Quinn appeared to question his Democratic credentials, and paint him as the type of “millionaire banker” who was responsible for the recent recession. Daley previously served as a top executive at JP Morgan Chase.

“What I didn’t like was an attack on my Democratic values. That’s different. Yes, I’ve been successful, and I have no apology for that, whatsoever. And yes bankers made mistakes, and blah blah blah, and politicians make mistakes, but a criticism of me for not being a Democrat was very offensive to me,” Daley said.

With Daley out of the race, Quinn is all but set to be the Democratic nominee, with only former CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman in the race against him – an opponent who is a virtual unknown to voters outside Chicago.

Quinn’s lack of big legislative wins in Springfield, and the continued stalemate over the state’s $100 billion pension debt could drag him down in the general election, and make for a tough fight against any of the Republican candidates.

Daley said he would not speculate on any other possible Democratic candidates who might jump in the race now that he’s out. As for his own future, Daley said he’d return to the private sector, though he doesn’t have anything lined up for now.

He also said he’d return the $1 million in campaign contributions he’s received from donors.