CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has ruled out challenging Mayor Rahm Emanuel in next year's mayoral election.
"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," she said in a statement provided by political consultant Ken Snyder Tuesday afternoon. "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.
Preckwinkle Rules Out Mayoral Bid
"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."
Preckwinkle largely was seen as the most serious potential challenger to Emanuel's re-election chances next year. A recent Sun-Times poll showed her leading Emanuel in a head-to-head race 55 percent to 31 percent.
Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle says that poll helped spur her announcement that she was not a candidate.
"Ironically, the Sun Times poll at the beginning of the week made it clear to me that I was going to have a hard time talking about much other than the mayor's race over the next few months if I didn't make a stronger statement about my intentions," Preckwinkle said at a news conference Tuesday.
WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Mayor Emanuel had been saying he didn't expect her to run.
"Toni and I have worked on issues facing all of the Chicago residents," Emanuel said. "We worked together to find savings, about $65 million. We will continue to work on issues of criminal justice."
Expert: Preckwinkle Wasn't Intimidated By Emanuel
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has said she is seriously considering a bid for mayor, and has begun forming an exploratory committee.
Democratic State Senator Martin Sandoval, one of the most influential Latino politicians, was at an event with the mayor announcing a new Park District athletic conference when the news broke.
"If there was anyone that may have put up a formidable challenge it was President Toni Preckwinkle," said Sandoval. "Given that she has decided to continue to pursing being president of the Cook County Board, I think that in my book, game's over."
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) says people are encouraging him to run against Emanuel.
"I think they want a change, I think they want a different kind of leadership here," he told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.
Former Ald. Bob Shaw, former city official Amara Enyia, who was recently interviewed by CBS Chicago's Mason Johnson, and political activist William Kelly have already announced they are running for mayor.
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