By CHRIS FUSCO and DAVE McKINNEY
Chicago Sun-Times Staff Reporters
State Comptroller Dan Hynes, who narrowly lost to Gov. Quinn in a bitter battle in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, isn't interested in replacing Scott Lee Cohen as Quinn's running mate, a spokesman said today.
Hynes' decision followed a breakfast meeting with Quinn earlier today that had been arranged before Cohen's announcement Sunday that he's withdrawing from the Democratic ticket. During the campaign, Hynes cited elimination of the lieutenant governor's office as a way to save taxpayers' money.
Cohen's decision came in the wake of allegations of missed child-support payments in Cohen's divorce case last year and a 2005 domestic-battery arrest in which Cohen allegedly held a knife to an ex-girlfriend's throat. The battery charge was dropped after the ex-girlfriend, who had a misdemeanor prostitution conviction, didn't show up in court
Speaking at a news conference at the Hotel Allegro in downtown Chicago after his meeting with Hynes, Quinn described Cohen's withdrawal as "a poignant moment for our state."
The Democratic State Central Committee will choose Cohen's replacement. The group is to meet March 15, but could meet sooner -- something Quinn said he hopes will happen.
"I commend Scott Lee Cohen for making the decision he did last night," Quinn said. "I think the people of Illinois agree with his decision, and it's time to move on to the future."
Quinn also outlined the qualities he's looking for in a running mate:
"Someone who is qualified to be governor, who has a record of public service. Someone who is able to speak to ordinary everyday people in plain language about the importance of the economy. And someone who also stands up to the rest of the values of the Democratic Party."
Quinn said he's "open-minded to a number of folk" for the job and "would encourage anyone who is interested to come forward and let us know."
State Rep. Art Turner, the West Side legislator who finished second to Cohen in the primary race for lieutenant governor, said Sunday he still wants the job. He was House Speaker Michael Madigan's endorsed candidate.
Asked about Turner as a potential running mate, Quinn said today: "Art Turner has been a friend of mine for 30 years. He's a good man."
But he did not offer Turner his endorsement.
Other names being kicked around for the nomination are the four others in the primary: state Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), state Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), state Rep. Mike Boland (D-East Moline) and electrician Thomas Castillo.
Also being discussed: Veterans Affairs official Tammy Duckworth and state Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Wilmette), who just lost a primary for Congress.
Also today, Planned Parenthood of Illinois' political arm rescinded its endorsement of Cohen "in light of the serious allegations made against [Cohen] by his ex-wife and his ex-girlfriend."
The group had endorsed multiple candidates for lieutenant governor and "is relieved that Cohen made the right decision to step down as the Democratic nominee."