The campaign fly-around, scheduled for tomorrow, is on hold…
State Sen. James Meeks said today that he was abandoning any thoughts of a third-party bid to run for governor, saying he received assurances from incumbent Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich that a comprehensive school-funding reform plan will be considered by lawmakers.
“I’m off the ballot,” Meeks said at a news conference late this morning. “Forget it.”
Meeks, a Democrat-aligned independent lawmaker, had made Blagojevich’s commitment for improved state funding for schools a condition for not running.
State Sen. James Meeks abandoned his third-party run for governor on Friday, saying he was satisfied with Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s new, still unreleased plan for Illinois’ schools.
Meeks said he had been briefed on the governor’s plan but would not release any details. He referred all questions to the governor’s office, which is scheduled to unveil its plan Tuesday.
“I’m saying I’m off the ballot. Forget it,” Meeks said.
The talk of a run by Meeks prompted speculation that he was using it as a way to leverage concessions from Blagojevich, a Democrat who could lose black voters to Meeks. Meeks is black and leads a megachurch on Chicago’s South Side that boasts a 22,000-member congregation.
UPDATE: From the governor’s office:
â€œNext week, Governor Blagojevich will announce the next steps in his vision for the future of education in Illinois. His plan reflects bold new ideas for helping our children learn and succeed. The plan was developed working closely with Senator Meeks, and he will be an integral part of its implementation.
â€œWe look forward to announcing this plan with him and other education leaders, to talking about this plan in the coming days, and beginning to implement this plan in the months ahead.â€
Meeks and Odelson were mum on the governorâ€™s plan, which is scheduled to be presented Tuesday to members of the education committees of both the state house and Senate, as well as to various teachers union.
But Meeks said Blagojevich previewed the plan to him in a four-hour meeting Thursday and in an hour-long session this morning.
Meeks would only say the plan does not include any increase in the sales or income tax.
Odelson, who also saw the plan, called it â€œingeniousâ€ and the most â€œmonumental change in educationâ€ in years.