Is 'diversity' a consideration for lt. gov?

February 10, 2010 4:38:05 AM PST
The Democrats are tossing around names to replace Scott Lee Cohen, who resigned over the weekend as candidate for lieutenant governor.Democratic leaders don't like talking about it publicly, but some believe the party's fall ticket should be more diverse. They also believe that Cohen's resignation allows the party a chance to add diversity, which is why two Asian Americans are getting serious buzz.

"A lot of people know us. I don't need to re-introduce myself in a big way," said Raja Krishnamoorthi.

Peoria-raised Krishnamoorthi says his losing effort in the democratic primary for state comptroller has proven his ability to win votes downstate and to raise money. Running a positive ad campaign, the 35-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer finished less than a percentage point behind nominee David Miller. He raised $1.1 million and said there's more money to help the fall ticket if he's selected.

"A lot of supporters who helped me in this race will provide that energy and most needed as a democratic party," said Krishnamoorthi.

Another possible replacement candidate is Tammy Duckworth, who was unavailable for comment. Democratic sources tell ABC7 that some party leaders favor Duckworth or Krishnamoorthi because they are qualified Asian Americans and would add diversity to the fall ticket.

On Monday, Governor Pat Quinn said race or ethnicity should not affect the choice of his running mate:

"I don't believe in quota systems at all. Never have. Never will. I think it's important we never have that in our politics," said Gov. Quinn.

Right now, the Democratic ticket for the six state government offices includes three African Americans. State Representative Art Turner, who finished second to the resigned Cohen, said he should not be eliminated from consideration because three other black candidates won their primaries.

"I don't think that's an issue. You've got four highly qualified African Americans," said State Rep. Art Turner. "I know I have a proven record and have the ability to represent this entire state, so I would hope that the color of my skin or the region or the community that I live in is not a factor to stop me from going to this position."

The State Democratic Central Committee has still not given its 38 members notice of a meeting to select Cohen's replacement, according to Congressman Danny Davis, who is a committee member.

Candidates have not been shy about saying if they're interested in the position, so it's curious that Duckworth has not commented one way or the other.