Monday, February 08, 2010

Dems must pick new lt. gov candidate

By Rachel Wells

Now that Scott Lee Cohen’s tumultuous run for public office is over, party members must choose a replacement lieutenant governor candidate for the Nov. 2 Democratic ticket.

Cohen, a pawnbroker who was accused of domestic battery, announced his withdrawal from the race Sunday evening at a Chicago tavern.

The Democratic State Central Committee is charged with selecting the new candidate and may wait to do so after the State Board of Elections certifies election results, said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker and party chairman Michael Madigan. The number of Democratic ballots cast in each committee member’s congressional district determines the weight of his or her vote in the selection process. Those numbers aren’t official until March 5. Whether the committee chooses a candidate before or after that date, Brown said the process would be “incredibly transparent.” While leaders will likely aim for a quick decision, “what’s important is that they have the best candidate – that they look at all the options, all the alternatives,” Brown said.

In a Chicago news conference this morning, incumbent gubernatorial candidate Pat Quinn said he wants a running mate with “progressive values,” but the process of identifying him or her should be a team effort. Phone calls placed to Quinn’s campaign this afternoon were not immediately returned.

Brown would not speak to the topic of potential candidates. Speculation has included Madigan-endorsed Chicago state Rep. Art Turner, who came in second in the primary, or possibly a downstate candidate to better round out the Democratic ticket. A phone called placed with Turner’s campaign was not immediately returned. Waukegan Sen. Terry Link, East Moline Rep. Mike Boland, Elmhurst electrician Thomas Castillo and Chicago Sen. Rickey Hendon were also lieutenant governor candidates in the primary.


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