"I believe I've been effective as lieutenant governor and can be more effective in other office and I look forward to that. Thank you," Sheila Simon said Wednesday morning. And with that, Simon's three minute and eight second news conference was over. She's moving on- but she didn't say where.
"Well, it didn't come as a surprise," Gov. Quinn said. The split with the governor comes as Quinn struggles with a poor approval rating and the possibility of two high-profile primary challenges.
Quinn is also under siege from his biggest ally in his last race: public employee unions that picketed his event Wednesday. Sources close to the governor say he hopes to find an African-American running mate to shore up his increasingly shrinking base.
"I have a job to do on policy. And I think that's what people want their governor to do. Not politics, policy," Gov. Quinn said.
The Simon surprise comes as a new poll - conducted by The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute , a downstate policy group named for Simon's father - shows: Among Democrats, Lisa Madigan is the favorite in the race for governor with 32-percent support; Quinn gets 23-percent; and former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley gets 12-percent of primary voters. Twenty-eight percent say they're still undecided.
"It's always nice when people believe in the work you're doing," IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan said of the survey. When asked about running for governor, she said, "I have not made up my mind about what I'm going to do but thanks for asking."
ABC 7 political analyst Laura Washington says Simon's decision may have come with some assurances.
"It's in Lisa Madigan's interest to have Sheila Simon step away from Pat Quinn and move away because it makes Pat Quinn look even weaker and Lisa Madigan a stronger candidate," Washington said.
"Well I know this: The Madigan's - Lisa and Mike - don't do anything that isn't in their self, political and personal interest so it very well could be some kind of deal," Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady said.