"In the estimation of the last two clean and competent Republican governors — no matter what you think of Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson — they have said in a letter they believe I'm the only Republican that can win," Dillard said. "I understand the enormity of the office. I need to be governor to lead this state and make it work again. Don't assume that Pat Quinn is a pushover because he is not."
Later it was Brady's turn. His loss against a weakened Quinn the last time out is not a ringing endorsement for another chance, but he fought for it Tuesday.
And he, too, sought to portray the businessman as Emanuel's candidate. But he also took a few swipes at Dillard for cutting that Obama campaign commercial.
"Sen. Dillard has this cloud of good old boy politics in his background," Brady said. "But probably more important is that Republican primary voters won't support a candidate who ran a television ad for President Barack Obama."
Daley's withdrawal leaves Quinn alone, barring a last-minute candidate, but don't forget that Boss Madigan works best with a Republican governor, and there is much bloody political work ahead if the state is to remain solvent.
That means debates on tax increases or heavy cuts in services, and a war building with the public unions.
Some of you thought I took it too easy on Bill Daley, and told me so. I thought he was a serious, thoughtful candidate who deserved consideration, and I haven't changed my mind.
But it was the votes he couldn't get that changed his mind. Common wisdom suggested a Daley would have trouble getting votes south of I-80. But after his brother's wrought-iron-fisted reign as mayor, it was doubtful that Bill could get many votes south of Archer Avenue.
"The voters of Illinois deserve someone who's going to commit — not just to a tough campaign but to the more difficult job of governing the state," Daley said Tuesday. "A state which deserves better."
It does deserve better.
But for decade after decade, it hasn't been about the state. It's been about the bosses.