A day after two polls indicated she would defeat Rahm Emanuel if an election were held now, an individual seen by many as the Chicago mayor's top obstacle to reelection announced she will not challenge him for the post.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Tuesday afternoon she will not run against Emanuel in the 2015 mayoral election. In a statement first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, she said "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."
While Preckwinkle had repeatedly said she was planning to run for reelection to her county post, she had not specifically shut the door on a possible mayoral run prior to Tuesday's announcement.
In a statement released shortly after Preckwinkle's announcement, Emanuel described his rival as "a strong partner in tackling many of the challenges facing Chicago neighborhoods, and an outspoken voice for criminal justice and pension reform." He heralded the city-county cooperation with saving Cook County taxpayers millions.
Emanuel won a majority vote when elected mayor in 2011, but by 2013 only two percent of Chicago residents strongly supported his performance. The dip in approval ratings hasn't hurt his campaign coffers: so far, Emanuel has raised some $7 million for his reelection bid.
Earlier Tuesday, the mayor was questioned about the recent polls indicating that rivals including Preckwinkle and Chicago Teachers Union Karen Lewis could stand in the way of his reelection. Emanuel reportedly deflected the questions, stating there would be another "time for polling and politics."
Meanwhile, Lewis said she has already assembled an unofficial exploratory committee for a possible mayoral campaign.