Dem. Lt. Gov. hopeful to put in $3 mil

Dem. Lt. Gov. hopeful to put in $3 mil

Posted by Joseph Ryan on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 16:19
Chicago businessman Scott Cohen says he will spend up to $3 million of his own fortune on his Democratic race for lieutenant governor. But Cohen also supports campaign spending limits and argues others should be allowed to only raise and spend $100,000 in their pursuit of the post. Cohen is in a crowded field for lieutenant governor, facing five other opponents. He revealed his spending plans at a Daily Herald editorial board interview today and was quickly rebuked by the three other candidates in attendance: state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan, Elmhurst electrician Thomas Castillo and state Rep. Mike Boland of East Moline. “I’m not even going to come close to that,” said Link, a veteran Lake County lawmaker. “That is ludicrous for an office of this size.” The lieutenant governor’s position has no official authority. The lieutenant governor becomes governor if the incumbent state executive is ousted, resigns or is incapacitated as was illustrated by Pat Quinn’s rise to upon Rod Blagojevich’s ouster in January. Boland said of Cohen’s spending, “Donate the money to charity or something.” Cohen responded, “When elected I can do more for the people than just donate to some charity.” Cohen defended his spending further, saying “I’m not buying the election. I’m putting my money where my mouth is.” Cohen is running as an outside businessman not afraid to take on career politicians and his presence at the editorial board meeting sparked some spirited debate. Two other Democrats are running for the lieutenant governor post: state Rep. Art Turner of Chicago and state Sen. Rickey Hendon of Chicago. They are scheduled to meet with the Daily Herald editorial board in the coming days. The winner of the Feb. 2 Democratic primary will appear on the general election ballot with the winner of the primary for governor. Gov. Pat Quinn faces three challengers, including Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes of Chicago. Meanwhile, those in attendance Monday were critical of Quinn’s early release prison program even though they could end up running on a ticket with him next year. “That is crazy,” said Boland. Quinn has shutdown the early release program in question after revelations in the media that prisoners were being cut loose after serving a just few days of sentences for crimes like repeat drunken driving, drug possession and weapons violations. Quinn says the program is now under review. “If you commit a crime, you have to serve some time,” Boland added. “You have to have some sort of punishment.” Link was perhaps the least verbose in his critique, saying Quinn “has to answer what happened.” Castillo called it “a misstep.” “I’m sure they had good intentions,” he said. “They just wound up getting the wrong people out of jail.” Cohen said the apparent cost-cutting move put public safety in “jeopardy.” “It is wrong,” he said.
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