New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a star-studded array of Clinton administration alumni are pumping major dollars into the candidacy of Bill Daley, former Obama White House chief of staff, eight months before the Democratic primary for governor of Illinois.
What makes the involvement even more intriguing is that incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to say whether he will run again in 2014. In addition, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan is reportedly also leaning toward a bid for the Democratic nod.
But this has not discouraged either Bloomberg or the Clinton veterans from weighing in for Daley, who also served as secretary of commerce under the 42nd president.
The Huffington Post reported last week that Bloomberg donated $5,300 to the Daley campaign and also cut a hard-hitting commercial
for his candidacy.
Bloomberg and Daley are clearly political soulmates on the issue of gun control. When the Manchin-Toomey background check measure died in the Senate, Daley wrote a hard-hitting op-ed in the Washington Post
saying he would send his campaign dollars to Democrats other than those who voted against it.
Mickey Kantor, former commerce secretary and U.S. Trade Representative under Clinton, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, and former Vice President Al Gore each weighed for Daley with $5,300 checks, the maximum donation permitted to state candidates under Illinois law.
The contribution from Gore was the least surprising since Daley managed his losing presidential campaign in 2000.
"With all those Clinton administration alumni getting behind Bill Daley for governor, can Bill Clinton himself be far behind?" Jim Nalepa, candidate for state GOP chairman, told Newsmax.
Nalepa also pointed out that what is "especially surprising here is that while Bill Daley plays well with the power brokers in Chicago, you hear nothing but negative things about him when you get outside the city." Daley is the son and brother of two longtime mayors of Chicago.
Also donating the maximum amount to Daley's coffers are Lowes Chairman Jonathan Tisch and wife Lizzie.
Having raised more than $800,000, Daley has made little secret of the tough tactics he will use if he faces a primary with Lisa Madigan, daughter of longtime state House Speaker Mike Madigan.
According to a recent Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll commissioned by Daley, a full 70 percent of likely voters say it is either a "serious concern" or "somewhat of a concern" that a Governor Madigan and a Speaker Madigan "will put too much power in one family's hands and break the system of checks and balances that is supposed to keep power in government separated."
The same poll also found that 26 percent of voters would not support Madigan if her father remains speaker and 23 percent would have "a hard time" voting for her if the elder Madigan keeps wielding his gavel.
Having released these figures to the press, Daley signaled he will play political hardball if he has to. And based on the support he is getting from some of his powerful friends, will have the means to do it.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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