Sen. Dick Durbin deflected questions about a potential run for governor as Illinois Democrats gathered in Philadelphia to kick off the Democratic National Convention Monday.
Durbin explained Monday that he was focused on the upcoming November election and not a potential gubernatorial bid.
“The election for governor of Illinois is about 30 months away,” Durbin said Monday. “I say to those who are focusing on that, they’ve lost sight of the most important election that is going to be just a few months from now.”
The senator claimed that he was focused on his current job and the “positive responsibility” voters gave him in his last reelection bid in 2014.
Nevertheless, House Speaker Mike Madigan called Durbin “uniquely qualified" for the role of governor, the Chicago Tribune reports. Madigan noted that he and Durbin talked about the possibility as recently as “a few months ago.”
Madigan also took the opportunity to tie Gov. Bruce Rauner to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“You can see there’s a lot of interest among Democrats to improve the operations of the governor’s office of Illinois,” Madigan said Monday. “Given the record of Bruce Rauner, which dovetails nicely into the record of Donald Trump on extremism, you’ll find plenty of Illinois Democrats anxious to participate in the next election.”
Madigan’s daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, has also been considered a potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate. However, Speaker Madigan said he hasn’t talked to his daughter about a potential run “recently.”
According to the Tribune, Chicago Ald. Ed. Burke, 14th, speculated Monday about Durbin potentially leaving the Senate if Democrats are able to regain the majority in the fall. He also called Valerie Jarrett “an exciting possibility” for a gubernatorial candidate. Jarrett has been a longtime advisor to President Barack Obama.
Additionally, State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, who occupies Obama's old seat, said that he would be interested in a gubernatorial bid.
“I would want any position that would put me in a position to solve problems and, as I said before, we have no shortage of problems in the state of Illinois,” Raoul said.
"No matter who the person is they've got to be able to talk to the entire constituency," Raoul added.
Businessman Chris Kennedy, the son of former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is also reportedly mulling a run for governor and meeting with potential donors.
But with the gubernatorial election over two years away, it's clear that the Illinois Democrats are still searching for their candidate to take on Rauner in 2018.