CHICAGO – The Cook County Democratic Party on Friday endorsed Gov. Pat Quinn over 2014 rival Bill Daley, the former White House chief of staff whose father once controlled the organization and whose family roots in county politics go back decades.
Though the endorsement may seem like a role reversal, the county party also has a history of backing the person in power.
Quinn spoke to the group during a meeting downtown Chicago, and said he's worked to improve the economy, clean up government and pass a capital construction program that created jobs. But he acknowledged there's more work to be done.
He also said the county party – the biggest Democratic organization in the state – helped him win a close race in 2010.
"People here go door to door. They knock on doors, they make phone calls. They turn out the vote," the Chicago Democrat told reporters afterward. "That's how I won election in 2010, because there are lots and lots of volunteers who are in these organizations and they believe in the cause."
In a statement, Daley's campaign spokesman said the power of incumbency was the driving force behind Friday's selection, noting the party also endorsed Quinn four years ago. It also factored into Daley's decision not to address the meeting of township and ward chairmen where the endorsement was made, he said.
"When you look at all the assets of incumbency Governor Quinn is now spreading around, we don't see any reason why that [endorsement] would change, no matter how failed Governor Quinn's record is," spokesman Pete Giangreco said.
Voters in Cook County made up more than 60 percent of the total votes cast in the 2010 Democratic primary, making it a crucial battleground. Quinn's campaign said Friday he also has the support of party chairmen in 69 other Illinois counties. Of the state's 102 counties, 99 have Democratic party operations.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat who has said he's considering entering the governor's race, also did not speak during Friday's meeting.
Cook County Democrats also endorsed U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White for re-election, as well as state Sen. Mike Frerichs of Champaign for state treasurer and Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon for comptroller.