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Time to let go of the lt. governor
Daily Herald Editorial Board
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Published: 2/5/2010 12:01 AM | Updated: 2/5/20 12:22 PM

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Democratic party leaders in Illinois wanted to move the primary date up a while ago to help Illinois Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign. And so they did.

And now it is the Democrats who will need to deal with the aftermath of that move. They now have pawnshop owner Scott Lee Cohen as their nominee for lieutenant governor, a man who, police reports say, was accused of wielding a knife against a woman who had previously pleaded guilty to a prostitution charge. Cohen said he didn't touch the woman and the case was dropped when she did not appear in court. Still, this is some aftermath.

And it happened, in part, because Cohen spent millions on ads saying he was focused on creating jobs and, in part, because few people knew all of that history on Cohen, and, in part, because few people voted Tuesday. Out of more than 7.5 million registered voters in Illinois, Cohen won the nomination with 210,837 votes, according to unofficial returns

Cohen's arrest record had been disclosed and published some months ago, but more of us in the media should have done more to bring it to the fore. The Democratic Party should have done more to bring it to the fore. After all, this is the party stuck in 1986 with Lyndon LaRouche disciple Mark Fairchild.

It is the duty of party leaders to ensure voters know who is running to represent their party.

We urge Cohen to step aside. And we urge Illinois legislators to abolish the office of lieutenant governor and be done with it. It would save a bit of money in a near-bankrupt state. It's a do-nothing office others in state history have won and then abandoned or tried to abandon.

Yes, we need a succession plan. We all learned that a year ago when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was rightfully removed from office under a corruption-charge cloud.

The succession should be changed so that the attorney general is elevated to governor should the office become vacant. Even if the attorney general were from a different political party, that would be a far better succession chain because that official runs a much larger office with many more employees and a much larger budget than the lieutenant governor. Illinois' lieutenant governor does only essentially what the governor assigns, which, oftentimes, is nothing much.

This isn't quite the same as 1986 with the LaRouche acolyte, but the lieutenant governor does little and it makes no sense to keep having the potential of having two candidates who are practically strangers running together on the same ticket.