Cohen faces mounting pressure to step aside

February 5, 2010 9:03:18 PM PST
Scott Lee Cohen, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, is facing growing pressure to step aside.Party leaders are worried Cohen's past association with a prostitute and allegations of domestic violence will hurt the ticket he shares with Pat Quinn.

Throughout the day Friday, Cohen's campaign aides told ABC7 if that we wanted to hear from the Democratic nominee and get the latest on his intentions, we should show up at the Vertigo night club, on the 15th floor of a Chicago hotel at 9 p.m. Friday.

ABC7 showed up. There was table reserved in Cohen's honor. Waitresses in black mini-skirts set the stage at the table with creative, colorful cocktails.

But the controversial candidate and guest of honor was nowhere to be found.

Cohen's campaign slogan was "leadership that listens," but so far, he is not listening to leaders of the state's Democratic Party who are calling on him to quit.

"He needs to sit down with people he trusts who understand this world of politics, who will explain to him this is not the end of the story. This story will continue as long as his name is on the ballot, and I hope he'll take their advice and withdraw his name," said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat.

"His personal life is going to be dragged before the media and before the people. It won't be pretty for him, as well. I'm not saying that in any threatening way. I think we've already seen that that's just a fact," said U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who represents Chicago and the northern suburbs.

Early in the campaign, when few were paying attention, Cohen told one reporter about a domestic battery charge leveled against him by an ex-girlfriend, Amanda Eneman. The charge was dropped, but it is now known that Ms. Eneman pled guilty to prostitution around the time they were living together.

Cohen insists he thought she was masseuse. That's how they met.

"To this day, I still don't believe she was a prostitute. There are all kinds of allegations that fly, and not all of them are true," Cohen said Thursday.

Cohen picked-up many endorsements during the primary. Many are bailing, including Cohen's own alderman.

"I don't think anybody would condone what he did, and I think a lot of people would change their minds now," said Ald. Scott Waguespack of the 32nd Ward.

Ald. Bernie Stone is among the few politicians saying Cohen should hold his ground.

"Did he make some absolute bad mistakes? Yes he did," 50th Ward Alderman Stone said. "He was the very first one that understood what the public wanted, and that was jobs, jobs, jobs."

For now, we can only assume that Mr. Cohen's last statement that he had no intentions to step aside stands.

In the meantime, many of Chicago's top political reporters continued their stakeout Friday night at the night club.