Paul Vallas introduced as Pat Quinn running mate for Illinois governor

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made his first public appearance Tuesday with his new running mate, Paul Vallas.
November 12, 2013 3:05:04 PM PST
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made his first public appearance Tuesday with his new running mate, Paul Vallas.

How does adding the name Paul Vallas to the Democratic ticket help Governor Pat Quinn win re-election next year? It's a question Vallas himself could not answer.

"I was always concerned about whether or not I could help him politically," Vallas said. "I know what I can do to help the governor govern."

Quinn, who's known Vallas more than 30 years, said the choice is about familiarity.

"I decided to pick Paul as my running mate because I've known him a long time. He knows Illinois like the back of his hand," Quinn said.

"The governor made the decision to pick Paul Vallas based on his record of being a strong advocate for education reform," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

"Pat Quinn has had some challenges in the management department. He's had some challenges in terms of competence, at least some people believe. This helps add to his aura of knowing how to run good government," said Laura Washington, ABC7 political analyst.

But Republicans - with three women and one Asian American running for lieutenant governor in their primary - note the Democratic ticket's lack of diversity and geographic balance.

"Paul and Pat Quinn are both from Cook County. And the collar counties and downstate deserve representation, too," said State Sen. Kirk Dillard, (R), candidate for governor.

"We think that our candidates are not only good at diversity but also good at government operations but understand how to govern," said Jack Dorgan, Illinois Republican Party.

The governor said his administration includes people from around the state of all backgrounds.

"Everybody's in, nobody's left out when it comes to our administration," Quinn said.

Quinn and Vallas won't have much to do until after the March 2014 primary. The incumbent's only challenger is longshot Tio Hardiman, who still has not qualified for the primary ballot.

Last week, many politicians were stunned by the news of Quinn's choice. Vallas was the Chicago Public Schools CEO from 1995 to 2001. Since then, he has been on the road for the past decade fixing public school systems and has never held elective office. In 2010, he considered running as a Republican for Cook County Board president.

To run for lieutenant governor, Vallas will leave his current post at the head of a school district in Bridgeport, Conn. He never gave up his residence in south suburban Palos Heights.

Some political consultants say Vallas would help Quinn and have an appeal in the Chicago suburbs where he ran well in the 2002 Democratic primary for governor, although his bid was unsuccessful.