Longtime Democratic state Sen. Terry Link, of Waukegan, said he wants to be the state's next lieutenant governor.
Link, 62, who has served in the Senate for 12 years, said he's running to create more of a geographic balance on statewide races. Link also said he can make a greater difference in Illinois as lieutenant governor than as a state senator.
"I can't think of anything better than being a state senator, but the opportunity is here right now so I think it's time to take a chance," he said.
Illinois has been without a lieutenant governor since Pat Quinn took over as governor after Rod Blagojevich was impeached earlier this year.
Illinois lieutenant governor candidates run independently from the gubernatorial candidates in the party primary, scheduled for Feb. 2, 2010.
Link has served as the Lake County Democratic Party chairman since 1992, is a member of the Democratic Leadership Team in the state Senate, and is vice-chairman of the Senate Revenue Committee.
State Sen. Michael Bond, a Democrat from Grayslake, said he is happy a legislator from Lake County could push for the state job.
"Given the suburban property tax crisis and road infrastructure crisis occurring in Illinois, anything that strengthens a suburban voice is a positive development," Bond said.
Link said he has spent the last two weeks calling colleagues and supporters, including former senate president Emil Jones of Chicago and former U.S. senator Alan Dixon, to discuss the position.
"Nobody is telling me I am a fool and I shouldn't be doing it," he said with a laugh. "Right now, though, a lot of people are withholding endorsements waiting to see who else announces their intentions to run. But, at the same time, a lot of others have come on board with me."
Announced Democratic candidates include state Rep. Art Turner of Chicago, electrical worker Thomas Castillo of Elmhurst, small-business owner and community activist Scott Lee Cohen of Chicago, and investment banker Justin Oberman of Chicago.
"Art and I have spoken about this, and I told him this is nothing personal and I think the world of him," Link said. "But when calling around, people have told me it's about time, or that I'm the right person for the job."
Lake County Republican Chairman Dan Venturi said, while he wishes his counterpart luck on a personal level, he opposes Link's political philosophy.
"I don't think increasing taxes or pushing the state further into debt is good for the people of Illinois," Venture said. "On a personal level, I wish him the best because there isn't any personal animosity there at all. Just when it comes to politics, our opinions differ greatly."