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David Ormsby Headshot

Bill Daley for Governor: Buzz or Zzzzz?

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Bill Daley's gubernatorial roll-out has drawn extensive headlines, but, so far, little excitement.

"It's probably not a good sign when you announce for governor and everybody's first thought is: 'Oh my god! does this mean Lisa is not running?'", quipped a Democratic insider.

The remark captured the essence of the reaction to Daley's move.

Yawn.

By announcing his exploratory campaign for governor in a YouTube video, which has generated a paltry 2,776 views so far, rather than at a traditional press conference, Daley avoided potential gaffes in any exchange with reporters. But he also missed an opportunity to be surrounded by cheering, lustful supporters, a powerful visual, to ignite his campaign launch.

Instead, observers were treated to the image of an old guy sitting alone in his living room staring into a camera saying that he had formed an "exploratory committee for governor."

Feel the energy.

There has been no "Thank God, Bill Daley is in the race!" reaction from Democratic political observers who fear that Governor Pat Quinn might lose the Democrats' grip on the governor's mansion. It has been more of a shrug while all political minds fixate on Lisa Madigan.

"Not unlike nature politics abhors a vacuum," said Democratic media consultant Eric Adelstein. "And while everyone's waiting for the attorney general to decide what her plans are ... Bill's move is a smart one because there's a void right now and he's jumping into it."

Still, Adelstein, who has no horse in the contest, questions the luster of the Daley name outside and inside of Chicago.

"The question has always been: How well will the Daley name play outside of Chicago?" he said. "And in this environment where there's a sense of, do we need change, is that going to be a name that is a throwback to the past?"

"Throwback to the past"?

Feel the energy.

Public affairs strategist Thom Serafin also cast doubt on Daley's drawing power outside of Chicago, "You'd have a hard time running statewide, getting votes out of downstate."

Long-time Daley family ally and political strategist David Axelrod, waxed slightly more enthusiastically about Daley, but envisioned no Daley juggernaut.

"I think in the Chicago area, the Daley name is still a great asset with all the bumps and bruises along the way," said Axelrod.

"All the bumps and bruises along the way"?

Feel the energy.

And Mayor Rahm Emanuel, groomed under Mayor Richard Daley, mustered a mere murmur.

"Bill Daley is a friend," said Emanuel, declining to offer an endorsement.

Feel the energy.

Outside of Chicago, for example, Bill Crowley, the Democratic Winnebago County auditor, expressed no hostility toward Daley but neither enthusiasm.

"I don't know what he thinks he's bringing to the table..." said Crowley.

Feel the energy.

Daley has assembled a strong campaign team, headed by well-known political strategist Pete Giangreco and media consultant Larry Grisolano, that provides the campaign with the necessary operational heft and credibility to go the distance. And as an ultimate insider, the ex-Commerce Secretary should have little trouble raising campaign cash.

Nevertheless, the question of "energy" behind Daley's electoral effort may ultimately be determined by Madigan.

If the popular attorney general launches her own bid, it could be lights out for Daley.

DavidOrmsby@DavidOrmsby.com