Quinn: Duckworth rejects Lt. Governor offer

February 23, 2010 5:22:22 PM PST
Thanks, but no thanks. That's what Tammy Duckworth said to Governor Pat Quinn Tuesday. Quinn wanted Duckworth to take the lieutenant governor's slot on the Democratic ticket.

Duckworth was appointed last year to one of the top jobs in the federal Veterans' Administration. Still, Governor Pat Quinn tried to recruit the Iraq war heroine to replace the resigned Scott Lee Cohen as his running mate.

The governor said he had just picked up his dry-cleaning Tuesday morning when Duckworth called his cell phone to remove herself as a possible Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

"I think it was an agonizing decision. She's interested in our state of Illinois. She still has a home in Hoffman Estates," Quinn said.

Retired Army Major Duckworth, who lost both legs and the full use of her right arm when the helicopter she co-piloted was shot down in 2004, had been asked by Quinn to be his running mate. Last year she accepted a presidential appointment to a top job in the Veterans' Administration.

In a statement Tuesday, Duckworth wrote, "I made a commitment to President Obama and our nation's veterans to serve at the Department of Veterans' Affairs and I want to fulfill my promise before returning home".

Democratic lieutenant governor primary winner Scott Lee Cohen withdrew his nomination earlier this month.

State Representative Art Turner, Cohen's runner-up, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, the close second place finisher in the Democratic comptroller's race, remain willing candidates. They will be considered among others when the state party's central committee meets within the next few weeks.

"I'm sure we will come together, it'll probably be the first half of March, to get a good candidate to be on our ticket and to carry on from there," said Quinn.

On another topic, Quinn's new web site will be unveiled Wednesday to explain the state's $12.8 billion deficit including $6 billion in outstanding debt. The site will invite taxpayers to suggest what programs should be cut and what taxes raised to generate new revenue.

The governor also said that, in the meantime, the state plans to borrow more money to ensure state government-related jobs are not affected.

"Borrowing is not my first preference by any stretch of the imagination. But you don't want to see people in Illinois lose their jobs," Quinn said.

The governor's Web site is found at www.budgetillinois.com, but it does not go up until sometime Wednesday.