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Vallas returning to Chicago
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff

Paul Vallas


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Published: 10/30/2008 11:16 AM | Updated: 10/31/2008 11:16 AM

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Former Chicago Public Schools chief and Democratic governor candidate Paul Vallas is returning to the region Sunday to endorse a constitutional convention referendum.

Vallas has been working out of state for six years heading school districts in Philadelphia and New Orleans. His visit comes amid serious talk that he may run for governor again or for Cook County Board president in 2010 as a Republican.

State Rep. Jack Franks, a Woodstock Democrat, confirmed Thursday that Vallas will headline a news conference in downtown Chicago to give a boost to a constitutional convention, which would open up the state's framework to an overhaul if approved by voters on Election Day.

Franks heads an organization advocating for the convention, and he plans to attend the news conference with Vallas.

Earlier this week, state Sen. Dan Cronin, head of the DuPage County Republicans, said he had been talking off and on with Vallas about a GOP run for governor or Cook County Board president.

"I think he is genuinely interested," Cronin said.

Vallas came in second behind Rod Blagojevich in the Democratic primary for governor in 2001. His potential move to run again in 2010 as a Republican could invigorate a challenged party, but it also is likely to draw fire from some party insiders who may question his GOP loyalty.

Cronin said he viewed Vallas as perhaps part of a strong return effort by Republicans come 2010.

"We have hopes and a very ambitious plan for 2010," Cronin said.

Vallas's wife and three children live in the south suburbs near his parents. He works in New Orleans, but returns frequently to Chicago to visit his family.