Scott Lee Cohen, the pawnbroker whose surprise victory in last week’s Democratic lieutenant governor primary was followed by scandalous revelations about him, quit the race tonight during the half time of the Super Bowl, saying he didn’t want to “put the people of Illinois in jeopardy in any way.”
Cohen made the tearful announcement at the Hop Haus tavern on the Far North Side. He spoke just hours after a spokesman for powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, the state Democratic chairman, said Madigan had urged Cohen to quit in a private meeting Friday.
“For the good of the people of the state of Illinois and for the Democratic party, I will resign,” an emotional Cohen told a crowd of supporters and reporters.
Cohen’s candidacy was widely perceived as a potential disaster for Gov. Pat Quinn and the rest of the Democratic ticket in the November general election.
When Cohen became a candidate, he disclosed that a 2005 domestic battery charge against him had been dismissed. It was only after his victory Tuesday that the details became known: His girlfriend at the time, a prostitute, had accused him of holding a knife to her throat but had failed to appear in court, leading to charges being dropped.
More revelations followed last week: Cohen admitted injecting anabolic steroids, was accused of failing to pay child support even while he put at least $2 million into his campaign, and was identified as the target of dozens of lawsuits over back taxes.
Next step: Defeating SEIU water boy/Illinois Democrat gubernatorial candidate Pat Quinn.
One thug down, many to go…
What’s next for the Democratic lieutenant governor’s slot?
Rich Miller at The Capitol Fax Blog explains:
* The state Democratic Party will make the appointment to fill the Scott Lee Cohen lt. governor vacancy. So, I asked Steve Brown, Speaker/Chairman Michael Madigan’s spokesman, about what was next.
Brown said that Madigan intends to work with the state central committee, Gov. Quinn, Senate President Cullerton and others to find a replacement for Cohen on the ticket. Brown claimed that Madigan would not act “heavy-handed,” as the media has constantly portrayed him.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley initially defended Cohen.
Now, he blames the media.
Flashback: Illinois Lt. Gov.: My State Is A ‘Laughing Stock’
*Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out.