Cohen Drops Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Associated Press

The Democratic nominee for Illinois' lieutenant governor dropped out of the race Sunday night, less than a week after winning the nomination, amid a political uproar about his past.

Since Scott Lee Cohen won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, it has become widely known that he was accused of abusing his ex-wife and holding a knife to the throat of an ex-girlfriend. He also admits using steroids in the past.

Announcing his decision at a Chicago bar packed with patrons watching the Super Bowl, a tearful Cohen said the Democrats were not certain they could win with him on the ticket. He said he was stepping down because he did not want to jeopardize the Democratic Party ticket.

"This is the hardest thing that I ever had to do in my life," he said before choking up with sobs.

"For the good of the people of the state of Illinois and the Democratic Party, I will resign," Cohen said in rambling remarks made as the Super Bowl halftime entertainment blared in the background.

It will be up to the Democratic State Central Committee to name Cohen's replacement.

The committee, which consists of two

members from each of the state's 19 congressional districts, was scheduled to meet in March, but it's possible the meeting will be moved up, said Steve Brown, spokesman for Illinois House Speaker -- and the state's Democratic Party Chairman -- Mike Madigan.

"There's no mandate that it has to be the person who finished second," Brown said. "Perhaps the candidates on the ballot will be reconsidered, or maybe some new people will be considered."

The revelations about Cohen's past came as Illinois was starting to move on from the scandals of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who inherited the job after Blagojevich's ouster following federal corruption charges, would have been paired with Cohen on the November ticket. Quinn, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Sen. Dick Durbin all had urged Cohen to leave the race.

Quinn said Cohen had "made the right decision for the Democratic Party and the people of Illinois.

"Now we can continue to focus our efforts on putting our economy back on track and working to bring good jobs to Illinois," the governor said in a written statement.

State Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, finished last in the race with 12.2 percent of the vote. He said he was pleased with Cohen's decision to drop out but would have liked it to happen sooner. …