Illinois' accidental governor made his strongest statement yet about his future plans Friday.
Gov. Pat Quinn told Fox Chicago's Jeff Goldblatt that he plans to run for governor in 2010, though he would not say when he would make an official announcement.
"I plan to run," Quinn said, "there's no doubt about that. When I announce is another story."
Quinn's near-declaration came as a potential Democratic rival geared up for a primary challenge.
Hynes is the first major Democrat to mount a primary challenge to Quinn and already has a big fundraising edge. The Comptroller has $3.5 million to use towards a run, while Quinn has $702,000 available after raising over $860,000 in the last six months.
Quinn wasted no time firing a shot at his emerging rival, the Tribune reports:
Responding to news that state Comptroller Dan Hynes plans to run against him in next year's primary, Gov. Pat Quinn said today his rival was a "no show" during this year's rocky budget negotiations.
Quinn said that while he backed the politically risky tax increase to help balance the state's budget deficit, lawmakers like Hynes stood on the sidelines:
"When you get in the arena, you've got to make decisions. You can't stand on the side of the road and not take part in tough battles. You can't be a no-show, you can't just show up and say 'Hey, I want to be elected to something.' I think you have to show you have the courage of your convictions to stand in the arena, take tough positions, do hard things because that's what the public demands."
However, as Capitol Fax's Rich Miller noted, Hynes did propose budget alternatives and took issue with Quinn for inciting "fear and panic" with his doomsday budget scenarios intended to bolster support for a tax hike.
UPDATE: Hynes' campaign fired back strongly at Quinn Friday afternoon, with a line of attack that is sure to play out regularly during the campaign:
"Governor Quinn is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. After Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn spent 6 years in silence watching Rod Blagojevich drive our state into a ditch it is puzzling that he describes a 50% income tax increase on Illinois families as leadership. Comptroller Hynes sent Governor Quinn two letters this past year laying out $1.2 billion in cuts along with alternative revenue sources and urged the Governor not to incite panic in order to pass a 50% tax increase on the backs of working families. While Quinn flip-flopped on his own plans for the last six months, he couldn't find the time to read either letter."