CHICAGO (AP) – Former Gov. Pat Quinn will push a voter referendum aimed at imposing a term limit on Chicago’s mayor off to 2018, saying Monday he’s short of the signature requirements for the November ballot.
In June, the Democrat launched a petition drive for ballot measures pitching a two-term limit and creating a citywide consumer advocate position. Quinn wouldn’t say at the time what election he was aiming for.
He faced a Monday deadline to turn in roughly 53,000 signatures to Chicago election officials. He told The Associated Press he has about 20,000, though his goal is 100,000.
“If you want to have a network of volunteers, and that’s what we’ve been doing, you’ve got to work at it. I’ve been very pleased at the response,” he told AP. “I’m out almost every day myself.”
Instead, he’s eyeing the March 2018 ballot for the voter referendum during Illinois’ next gubernatorial primary.
Quinn hasn’t definitively ruled out another run at governor or said if he’d be interested in the consumer advocate job. However, the Chicago resident has been highly visible at political and community events.
If the ballot measure is ultimately successful, there’s potential to make Mayor Rahm Emanuel ineligible to seek a third term in 2019. Emanuel has faced increasing discontent among city residents, particularly in the wake of police-involved shootings.
Quinn said it takes time to build support for petition drives and cited his previous efforts, including in 1994 for legislative term limits. Quinn also led Illinois’ only successful signature-driven ballot initiative decades ago as an activist with the 1980 “cutback amendment,” which reduced the size of the Illinois House and how residents elect legislators.
Quinn, a former state treasurer and lieutenant governor, became governor in 2009 after Rod Blagojevich was removed from office. Quinn was elected to a full term the following year, but lost re-election in 2014 to Republican Bruce Rauner.
Rauner, who plans to seek re-election in 2018, has also renewed his push for legislative term limits. He backed a failed 2014 petition drive and has since called on the Democrat-controlled Legislature to take on the issue.
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