Claypool won't run for Cook Co. board pres.

June 18, 2009 Claypool says he is taking a private sector job in health care.

"It's been wrenching. It' a very difficult decision, the hardest I've ever had to make. I'll miss the people I worked with and all the people who've stood with me and stood with this cause and I hope they'll continue to fight just as I will continue to fight for it in the private sector," said Commissioner Forrest Claypool, (D).

While he will fill out the remainder of his term as a commissioner on the county board, Forest Claypool will not run again for president, and will instead turn his attention to a new career with a start-up health care company.

Claypool narrowly lost to the late John Stroger, and has been a constant critic of Todd Stroger. Early candidate polls were flattering to Claypool, but after spending most of his adult years in the public sector, Claypool wants to switch gears and wade into health care.

"I think this was going to be a difficult race under any circumstances. I was confident before that we could win. I'm more confident now," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, (D) Cook County board president candidate.

Toni Preckwinkle, longtime alderman of Chicago's 4th Ward and candidate for county board president, launched her campaign Web site on Thursday. Claypool's departure, she acknowledges, improves her chances.

On Thursday night, a spokesman for incumbant Todd Stroger said that he has no reaction to Claypool's decision.

On the Republican side, Tony Peraica said Thursaday night he hasn't decided if he'll run again, but believes the political landscape is looking better and better. Paul Vallas has opted to remain as School superintendent in New Orleans, and another possible GOP candidate, State Senator Matt Murphy of Palatine has his sights set on governor.

Claypool, meanwhile, isn't closing the political door completely.

"I have no idea what the future will hold. I intend to stay active in politics and supporting others and causes I believe in," said Claypool.

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