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Former Obama Chief of Staff officially runs for Illinois governor

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during his meeting with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in the State Dining Room in Washington Ja
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during his meeting with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in the State Dining Room in Washington Ja

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, the son and brother of former mayors of Chicago, formally announced on Tuesday he is running for governor of Illinois in 2014.

Daley had said on June 11 he was exploring a bid.

"I'm committed to running for governor, there is no exploratory piece of this anymore," Daley said in a video posted by his campaign on Tuesday.

The announcement sets the stage for a fight for the Democratic nomination for governor between Daley and Governor Pat Quinn.

Daley has been criticizing Quinn for months, saying that the governor has failed to lead a state facing a financial crisis over mounting costs of public sector pensions. Illinois faces an unfunded pension liability of some $100 billion and has the lowest debt rating among the states.

In the video announcing his run, Daley spoke of "dysfunction" in Illinois state government and said there needed to be fundamental changes to fix it.

The field was cleared for Daley to challenge Quinn on July 16, when Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the daughter of the powerful Speaker of the state House of Representatives, Michael Madigan, decided not to run for governor.

The race for governor is expected to be extremely competitive. Quinn has been dogged by poor poll numbers and at one point in 2012 was the most unpopular governor in the United States, according to Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling.

Since then, Quinn has made some popular moves such as suspending the pay of legislators over their failure to fix the pension problem.

A survey conducted on July 17 by We Ask America for Capitol Fax, a politics newsletter based in the state capital of Springfield, found Quinn leading Daley 38 percent to 33 percent among 1,394 likely Democratic primary voters, with 28 percent undecided. The poll stated it had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.

Daley served as President Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff for a year until January, 2012. He was U.S. Commerce Secretary during the second term of former President Bill Clinton and chaired the Midwest operations of JP Morgan Chase from 2004 until he took the job in the Obama White House.

A statement from Daley said he had raised $800,000 in the first 19 days of his campaign. It also noted that he had attracted nearly 1,700 likes on Facebook and over 600 Twitter followers, a relatively modest number for a public figure. Quinn has more than 11,200 likes on Facebook and more than 10,300 Twitter followers.

Daley is the son of legendary Chicago Mayor, the late Richard J. Daley, and the brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Four Republicans have jumped into the race for Illinois governor including wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner, Illinois State Treasure Dan Rutherford, and state Senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard.

If Daley should win the governorship, both the state and Chicago would be headed by former Obama lieutenants. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also a former White House Chief of staff.

(Reporting by Greg McCune; Editing by Carol Bishopric)

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