The Latest from the Illinois Soap Opera (Updated)

You’ve got to hand it to us: there’s never a dull moment in Illinois politics these days. No sooner does Dan Hynes concede the election to sitting Gov. Pat Quinn:

Dan Hynes ended his Democratic governor campaign today, calling Gov. Pat Quinn and pledging his support in the fall campaign.

“Well, the people have spoken, and the votes have been counted. And I’m here to report that we rose up but fell just a little short,” Hynes said at a news conference at his River North campaign headquarters. “And if democracy means anything, it means that the campaign with more votes wins.”

“We did the right thing. Made sure all the votes are counted and now we know for sure that it wasn’t us,” Hynes said. “And rather than contest or demand anything further, let’s do the right thing again.”

“There is nothing I think I could have done more. I have no regrets,” he said.

than the nominee realizes that Scott Lee Cohen, the guy who came from nowhere to snag the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, has a felony arrest record:

Cohen, a pawnbroker who was the surprise winner in the little-publicized contest among half a dozen candidates, had previously disclosed his 2005 arrest. He described it Wednesday as an argument with his drunken girlfriend and said he didn’t lay a hand on her, though she called the police and had him taken into custody.

But the official police and court records show that the woman alleged Cohen put a knife to her throat and pushed her head against the wall.

In their October 14 arrest report detailing the complaint from the 24-year-old woman, Chicago police noted they observed “mild abrasions from knife wound” on her neck. They also noted “minor scars on her hand from her trying to defend herself against the arrestee swinging the knife at her.” The report notes the woman was seen by ambulance personnel but not taken to a hospital.

Quinn has mused publicly about the advisability of Cohen’s withdrawing his name from the ticket for the good of the party but has stopped short of asking him to withdraw.

The girlfriend is apparently no stranger to the justice system. According to John Kass, court records show that she’s a prostitute.

Illinois’s lieutenant governor race doesn’t generally get a lot of attention. It’s a job with few responsibilities and little opportunity to do real harm. That’s why the powers-that-be weren’t totally verklempt at Pat Quinn’s getting the job. That is, at least, until Rod Blagojevich got impeached and Quinn took the governor’s mansion.

All of this might provide openings for the Republicans except that they’re embroiled in their own battle to see who’ll be their gubernatorial candidate in November. At this point less than 500 votes separate the leader, Bill Brady from Kirk Dillard, the guy in second place. Unless party heavyweights can convince one or the other of them to step aside, I expect we’ll see challenges, recounts, and the full panoply of remedies for months to come. The Illinois Republican Party has shown a rare ability to shoot itself in the foot in recent years.


The Sun-Times has more details on the arrest:

Cohen, now 44, placed “a knife up to complainant’s neck causing minor scars,” according to the police report from his arrest. There also were “minor scars on her hand from her trying to defend herself against the arrestee swinging the knife at her.” Cohen also allegedly “pushed complainant’s head against [a] wall, causing a bump on the back of her head.”

Paramedics treated the now 29-year-old woman at Cohen’s Near North Side home. Police photographed her injuries, which they described as “mild abrasions from knife wound.”

“She never came to court and the charges were dismissed,” Cohen said. “I realized this relationship was not healthy for me. I ended it, and we parted amicably.”

The day before the ex-girlfriend failed to come to court for Cohen’s case, she was sentenced to court supervision in her misdemeanor prostitution case, which Cohen campaign strategist Phil Molfese said did not involve Cohen. The woman could not be reached for comment.

Molfese also said that Cohen sees his children regularly and has paid off any tax debt he’d incurred through the sale of a downtown building. “He’s been honest and up front from the beginning,” Molfese said of Cohen’s arrest. “It’s just that nobody cared.”

Until now, that is.

5 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    Plus a new indictment was just handed down against Rod Blagojevich, which will surely push his trial back to the Fall to provide color to the elections.

  • PD Shaw Link

    One of the interesting things about the lt. governor story is that it was published last March in the Sun-Times that Cohen had been arrested for domestic battery (but not all of the lascivious details). But nobody apparently thought Cohen had a chance until a few weeks ago. The newspapers apparently didn’t want to go with the story so close to the election, Cohen’s competitors didn’t want to alienate Cohen supporters by going negative, and even Quinn and Hynes refused a request to issue a joint statement denouncing Cohen’s candidacy.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Yikes, it’s getting worse: Cohen’s divorce papers surface with accusations of violence against his wife, forcing himself on her, and steroid abuse. Now, c’mon how long have these being sitting around?

    And yes, Quinn (and Hynes) have some responsibility here.

  • Drew Link

    “The Illinois Republican Party has shown a rare ability to shoot itself in the foot in recent years.”

    Indeed, but the Illinois Democratic Party has a rich history of nominating crooks and slimeballs, and getting them elected.

    Do we blame the pols, or the voters?

  • Michael Reynolds Link

    Do Lt. Governors in Illinois deal at all with the legislature? Because then the knife-handling skills could be useful.

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