Toni Preckwinkle has decided not to run against Rahm Emanuel for Chicago mayor, the Cook County Board president announced Tuesday.
She released the following statement on her decision:
"I have decided to rule out a run for Mayor of Chicago in 2015 because I made a commitment to reform Cook County's criminal justice system, transform our healthcare system, and ensure the viability of our pension system. We are making progress, but we still have work to do. I'm proud that we have balanced the budget every year while cutting the sales tax, holding the line on property taxes, and cutting a billion dollars of fat out of our budget.
"I am equally proud that our economic development initiatives have helped position our region to create new jobs in the near future. I promised to clean up Cook county government and we are changing the culture of how we do business. In many instances we have vastly improved the delivery of services to county residents, but we have a lot of unfinished business that I intend to address wholeheartedly. I am passionate about making Cook County a more fair and efficient place to live and work.
"I appreciate all of those who have expressed confidence in me by urging me to run for Mayor, and I hope you will continue to support me going forward."
In response, Emanuel called Preckwinkle "a strong partner in tackling many of the challenges facing Chicago neighborhoods, and an outspoken voice for criminal justice and pension reform."
He praised the cooperation between Chicago and Cook County for producing more than $65 million in taxpayer savings.
"I agree that we have more work to do together on these and other issues so that we can find ways to improve Chicago and Cook County for everybody," he said.
As recently as last month, Preckwinkle hadn't said whether she planned to run against Emanuel next year.
When asked during a news conference in June, she only said she's running for re-election as board president, noting a "big to-do list" lies ahead for that job.
Meanwhile, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is mulling a bid. Those close to Lewis say she has been “seriously considering” running for mayor and it appears she has some voters on her side.
A recent poll conducted by We Ask America found that if the mayoral election were held now, Lewis would beat Emanuel by 9 percentage points in a head-to-head contest.
In response to Preckwinkle's announcement, Lewis spokeswomwn Stephanie Gadlin said, "Things just got a little bit realer for Karen Lewis."