Friday, February 5, 2010

Democratic LG nominee rap sheet stuns Illinois Democrats

Illinois Democrats are reeling from yesterday's revelation that their candidate for lieutenant governor has a disturbing rap sheet that includes alleged domestic battery and tax evasion.  Scott Lee Cohen, a millionaire pawnbroker reportedly spent $3 million of his own money to secure the nomination in a state primary where all the media was focused on the gubernatorial and senate races.  Governor Pat Quinn and Democratic officials are trying to find a way to remove Cohen from the November ballot.  Politico's take:

Illinois Democrats, many of whom first found out about Cohen’s past from newspaper reports Thursday, are now scrambling to find a way to remove him from the ballot – a process that they acknowledge is far from simple.

At a Thursday press conference to celebrate his victory, Quinn said Cohen should consider stepping down in light of the domestic abuse record, but stopped short of demanding his resignation, saying he owes a public explanation to the voters.

“If there are matters that are raised about your conduct that disqualifies you from running… then the only appropriate thing to do is step aside,” Quinn said. "I always appeal to others in politics based on what's good for the people.”

Quinn said he would look into the possibility that the General Assembly could change state law to allow him to pick a running mate.

“There is no process to remove him from the ballot,” explained Quinn spokeswoman Elizabeth Austin. “We’re going to see what happens. As the governor said, he owes a public explanation to the voters. We’ll see what comes to light and what he has to say.”
If the guy really spent $3 million of his own money, I can't imagine that he'll step down without some compelling compensation.

Rich Miller at the Capitol Fax is following the scandal closely here. One of the most dramatic of several interviews with local news outlets can be seen here. (H/T Ben Smith)

In the current economic climate, it will be nothing short of miracle if the Democrats can finesse all this baggage into a winning ticket in November.  Even in Illinois.

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