Dems pick Sheila Simon for lt gov

March 27, 2010 9:05:51 PM PDT
The Illinois Democratic State Central Committee has chosen Sheila Simon, daughter of former U.S. Senator Paul Simon, as their nominee for lieutenant governor, passing over State Rep. Art Turner who was the runner-up in last month's primary.

In the end, the Illinois Democratic Party went with a familiar name. Sheila Simon, the daughter of the late senator Paul Simon, who served in Washington for two six-year terms.

"The leaders have an opportunity to select a candidate based on what we know about the rest of the ticket and what we know about what is going on now," Simon said.

The process was billed as an open and transparent process where all of the candidates were given an equal chance at the democratic nomination. Despite the talk, in the end, the committee chose the governor's personal favorite.

"We want to get the issues out to the voters. Working people will see us as the best ticket," Governor Quinn said.

It resembled a mini-political convention as the 17 finalists--some with sign-holding supporters in tow-- made last minute appeals to individual committee members.

A few minutes after 11:00 a.m., the formal presentations began with most observers focused on two candidates. Governor Pat Quinn's favorite, Southern Iillinois University professor Sheila Simon. "I offer two important demographics for the ballot, I'm a woman. Half of our voting population and the largest group of easily discouraged voters. Women are the voters we need to be turning out in November and I want to do my part to do that. And, I'm a downstater," Simon said.

And state representative Art Turner finished second in the primary election to Scott Lee Cohen --who dropped out after allegations surfaced of domestic abuse.

"Ten thousand signatures were turned in December, I put 30,000 miles on my car, the mechanic loves me," Turner said. "It hurt a little bit, but let me say this, this is not the first time I have been hurt. I am prepared."

After a few Chicago members chose turner the rest of the 38 member committee voted overwhelmingly for Simon. Then almost on cue Governor pat Quinn suddenly walked in from a side door.

"Both of us want to be strong voices for all of Illinois, but especially down-state Illinois. We don't want anyone in Illinois to feel left out," Quinn said.

With Quinn getting the candidate he encouraged to apply for the office party chairman Michael Madigan insisted the process was not rigged. "This was the most open process for selecting a candidate for nomination that I've ever seen," Madigan said.

The Quinn-Simon team left the nominating session Saturday morning and went directly to the campaign trail. Their first appearance was before a meeting of Democratic county chairmen in Springfield.