CHICAGO (WLS) --Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has decided not to run for mayor of Chicago in 2015, citing "unfinished business" in her current position. Preckwinkle said her work reforming Cook County is not over.
A Chicago Sun-Times poll released Monday showed Preckwinkle with a big lead over Mayor Rahm Emanuel, though she never announced she would challenge Emanuel. The poll showed Preckwinkle leading first-term mayor Emanuel by a whopping 24 points. Fifty-five percent of respondents saying they would vote for Preckwinkle, and only 31 percent said they would vote for Emanuel.
"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 weeks if I didn't make a stronger statement about my intentions," Preckwinkle said in a press conference Tuesday.
Preckwinkle said she thought about challenging the mayor, but decided to finish the work she began four years ago as Cook County Board president.
Emanuel appeared publicly Tuesday on the city's Southwest Side before Preckwinkle's announcement. He was asked about Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, another possible candidate, who bettered the mayor by nine percentage points in the same survey. Lewis is an outspoken critic of Emanuel.
"It's not about personalities in my view. It's about the right priorities, and the right progress and the right policies, and there will be a time in the campaign when people will lay them out," said Emanuel.
"No one wants to take the city backwards, they want to go forward but this is not the direction they want to go in. It's time to look at other options," said Lewis.
Preckwinkle would not comment on a possible Lewis candidacy or on the job Mayor Emanuel had done since taking office three years ago.
"I'm going to focus on being president of the county, and if you want to know how he's doing you should ask him," said Preckwinkle.
A spokeswoman for Karen Lewis issued a statement saying she was "saddened" by the Preckwinkle announcement, adding the city cannot withstand "another four years of error, disrespect and disregard" under Rahm Emanuel. The statement also repeated that Lewis is forming an exploratory committee to run for mayor.
Preckwinkle said she has about $1 million in her campaign war chest, while Emanuel's latest campaign filing entered Tuesday said he has $8.3 million in the bank.