Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Sen. Raoul Says He Won't Run for Governor

Democrat has been a member of the Illinois Senate since 2004

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    State Sen. Kwame Raoul said Thursday he won't jump into the 2014 race for Illinois governor.

    The Chicago Democrat had been weighing a primary challenge to Gov. Pat Quinn and former White House chief of staff Bill Daley for months. In a statement Thursday, he said he "did not take lightly the calls for me to join this race and provide voters with another option."

    But he said he decided not to run after talking with his family and evaluating whether he could raise enough funds to communicate his record and vision for the state. He said he didn't want to "create unnecessary divisions" and that he needs to focus on his role as chairman of a legislative conference committee that's trying to find a solution for Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

    "The office of the governor is a key position of leadership," Raoul said. "In deciding not to seek that position, I acknowledge the pivotal leadership role that is mine today and that I must carry out to best of my abilities until the job is done."

    The prospect of a Raoul candidacy was intriguing to political observers for several reasons. A member of the Illinois Senate since 2004, he has raised his profile in recent years by leading the push to end the death penalty, helping negotiate compromise legislation on the concealed carry of firearms and on pensions. As an African American lawmaker, he also had the potential to pick up votes in the black community -- where Quinn, in particular, has been actively campaigning for months.

    An attorney, Raoul had been exploring a run for attorney general if Lisa Madigan chose to run for governor. When Madigan chose to seek re-election, Raoul said some colleagues and other supporters had encouraged him to run for governor.

    Four Republicans have announced they're running: state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.