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« So Now Who Gets To Be Lt. Governor? A Green Plan for Paratransit »

Springfield Sun Feb 07 2010

On the Lt. Governorship: Scott Lee Cohen edition

Well, after spending almost a week after the election with the revelations against Scott Lee Cohen over what occurred in the years before he became the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, we have seen Cohen drop out of the race. It was a very interesting ride while it lasted. It seemed for a while that he had no intention of stepping down and would continue to draw out whether or not he would leave the race.

It seemed this time that the pressure brought to bear on this man actually worked. We had others who probably should have let go in the best interest of Illinois and they wouldn't. Yeah, I would point to Rod Blagojevich and his senate appointment before his removal from office Roland Burris.

I will give Cohen credit for his attempts to bear (link to Chicago Tonight video 15:38) through the pressure. He even attempted to be honest, but his PR initiative seemed to have gone flat. He expected some of the women in his life, especially the one who he had allegedly assaulted and threatened with a knife, to speak up for him. Unfortunately that too fell flat when she declared him unfit to be lieutenant governor.

The point of this post wasn't to discuss the whole story. Honestly I can't say I have no interest. Cohen was elected by the people to be the Democratic nominee, although he was certainly less than ideal. Besides, part of the problem in this was that he was largely unknown. Yet he was able to win in essentially a low turnout election. He had some money to spend on TV ads, yet another allegation against him was his failure to pay child support.

Even worse there are charges that the state party didn't properly vet him. Someone was asleep at the wheel -- especially the man who really should worry, Gov. Pat Quinn. Gov. Quinn, himself a former lieutenant governor who found became governor after the removal of  Blagojevich, had barely squeaked out a win in the Democratic primaries. He especially should have been concerned about who wold run with him this year.

This only leads to the next purpose in talking about the lieutenant overnorship of Illinois.

You know I could've sworn that on the CapFax blog a commenter said that there will be a move by the state Democrats to abolish the office of lieutenant governor. The commenter reasoned that if Cohen won this election they would really make the attempt. Someone knew something most of us didn't know!

For the record, I don't agree with such a move, however, I can certainly agree that some changes needs to be made as far as the state's No. 2 position. In Illinois the nominees for governor and lieutenant governor are elected as a ticket in the general election, but in the primaries they run separately and are brought together by chance in the general election. If you think there are moments where these two individuals may conflict, you are right! Even if they are supposed to be in the same party.

It was said that because of the cloud around Gov. George Ryan, his lieutenant, Corrinne Wood, put some distance between her and him. The same for Blagojevich and Quinn. Especially when stalemate and corruption became the rule of the day in a Blagojevich administration.

Anyway, I have no problem with the ticket concept, but when a governor wins a primary he or she should be allowed to select their own choice for lieutenant governorship. It can be in a similar fashion to how the president can select their vice president on the federal level.

My only other problem with the current state of the lieutenant governorship is that it's not very significant. Prior to the ratification of the 1970 constitution, the office also was the presiding officer of the State Senate. Another similarity with the federal vice presidency. I would say return this position to its former significance.

Hopefully in this way we can avoid a recurrence of a Scott Lee Cohen.


Chicago1954 / February 8, 2010 9:30 AM

Very nice article! I felt bad for Cohen's family last night. Why bring a little kid to a presser like that?

Personally, I feel that Hynes shouldn't accept the spot, if offered. He will be totally ignored and given nothing to do. It is a terrible post if you aren't on friendly terms with the governor.

Ryan abhorred Woods. moo. He went to great lengths to avoid her. She was one of Scott Fawell's great ideas. :(

RAStewart / February 8, 2010 11:32 AM

Your proposals make a great deal of sense, Levois, which I always take as the sure sign of ideas that will never get off the ground in Illinois.

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