Durbin won’t rule out Illinois governor’s run

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Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) (Photo credit JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA – Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin declined Wednesday to rule out a run for Illinois governor in 2018, saying whether his colleagues will reelect him as the Democrat’s No. 2 will factor into his decision.

In an interview outside the Philadelphia convention hall, Durbin downplayed “speculation” about “what will happen 28 months from now.”

“I can just tell you I am doing my job,” Durbin told CNN. “I enjoy my job, and I will help my state all I can.”

Asked if he would rule out a run for governor, Durbin would only say: “I’m focused on this election — this year.”

Speculation in Illinois political circles has mounted over the past several weeks about Durbin, who is not up for reelection in the Senate until 2020, and as Democrats look for a challenger against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner next cycle. If the influential Democrat left the Senate, it would reorder Illinois politics and create an opening in the party leadership hierarchy in the chamber.

Durbin acknowledged that whether he stays as the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat after November could weigh on his decision.

“Of course,” Durbin said when asked if the outcome of leadership elections would impact his choice. “I want to continue to serve as whip of the caucus. I think I have support within the caucus. But I am not even campaigning for whip at this point…. I have to focus on this election.”

After this fall’s elections, Democrats in the Senate will elect a new leadership team, which was spawned by Minority Leader Harry Reid’s year-end retirement. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is expected to become the next Democratic leader, but it’s uncertain whether Durbin will be challenged for the No. 2 spot by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state.

In the interview, Durbin praised Murray but said the two have not discussed any potential leadership race between them.

“She’s a great friend,” he said.