WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., said Sunday he will not run for mayor, writing in a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, “to truly serve you best, I believe Congress is where it must be done.”
“I don’t make this choice lightly,” wrote Quigley, noting the urgent problems the city faces in dealing with crime, strapped municipal finances and educating students.
“Chicago’s challenges require all of our attention as well as the vision and grit of a new mayor,” he wrote.
In an interview with the Sun-Times, Quigley did not rule out endorsing in a field that has quickly swelled since Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sept. 4 he would not seek a third term.
“We are dividing an apple in a lot of different ways with all these candidates,” he said in the interview.
“And the stakes are so high. I urge the public to be realistic and the candidates to be honest with what they’re trying to offer the constituents to get elected.”
Quigley, in his op-ed and in his Sunday interview, said his two key committee assignments in Congress factored in his decision not to run for mayor.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee – the only one from Illinois – Quigley has been the point person on Chicago-related federal funding matters while taking on national issues, such as government transparency, a more pressing issue given the chaos and controversy surrounding the Trump presidency.
And, as the Senate grapples with President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, it’s worth mentioning the appropriations panel also holds the justices’ purse strings.
Quigley’s national profile has grown this year as a result of his membership on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and its probe of Russian government intervention in the 2016 election. Quigley has been focusing on ways to prevent future election hacking.
Whether President Donald Trump will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein seems a possibility in the wake of The New York Times reporting he suggested wearing a wire to secretly record Trump.
Rosenstein, according to the report, also floated whether the 25th Amendment should be invoked, which could have led to Trump’s removal from office. Rosenstein denied the story.
Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Quigley said “my job is to protect his ability to get to the truth whatever that is. … If you fire Rosenstein, it is the functional equivalent of firing Mueller.”
As of Sunday, there are 17 announced contenders in the nonpartisan February contest with more mulling a bid. If no one wins 50 percent of the vote Feb. 26th, the top two vault to an April runoff.
“I’m not sure that all the dancers are on the floor,” Quigley said. “I still think we might be surprised of who” will be getting in and who will be “jumping off.”
Last week, three major figures jumped into the race: Bill Daley, the brother and son of Chicago mayors and a former Commerce Secretary; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; and Gery Chico, a former Chicago Public School Board president and former chair of the City Colleges Board of Trustees.
Quigley said if he endorsed, it would not be until after it’s clear who actually collects 12,500 valid signatures on a nominating petition – no small matter – and qualifies for the February ballot.
Quigley faces nominal opposition in his November re-election race against Republican Tom Hanson in the heavily Democratic district.
Quigley first ran for Congress in the 2009 special election to replace then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who was stepping down to become former President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff. At the time, Quigley was a Cook County Board member.
That open House seat ended up with 13 Democrats, six Republicans and six Green Party contestants on the ballot.
Quigley remembered a crowded primary debate at DePaul University.
So do I.
I was the moderator.
“It looks like we are headed to a big field even if some people drop out along the way. … And I know that debates can be taxing and difficult. So I have some sense of what they will face.”