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Madigan: The party, not Quinn, will make lt. gov. decision
By Timothy Magaw | Daily Herald Staff

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan


John Starks | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/17/2010 11:54 AM | Updated: 3/17/2010 4:53 PM

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SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Pat Quinn said picking his running mate is a decision largely up to him despite repeated claims by members of the state Democratic Party that choosing the nominee is their prerogative.

"I think this is a healthy exercise in grass-roots Democracy, but ultimately I have to make a choice, and I will at the right time," Quinn told reporters Wednesday morning after a campaign speech to union electricians at a Springfield hotel.

However, the chairman of the state's Democratic Party reminded reporters that it is the party's central committee that makes the final decision. The governor is not a member of that committee.

That said, Michael Madigan, Illinois House Speaker and Democratic Party chairman, said the governor is "entitled to great deference" on who will be the party's nominee.

More than 200 people have applied for the job. The pool of hopefuls is mostly a list of unknowns, but the list is sprinkled with suburbanites, including state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan, who originally sought the nod in the February primary, and former deputy treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi from Hoffman Estates, who lost a bid for state comptroller.

Senate President John Cullerton, who also attended the event, said several people from the Senate are seeking the job, so he wouldn't throw his support behind a single person.

"The governor's choice should be the most important factor," Cullerton said.

The party's present plan is to convene four meetings throughout the state on Saturday to allow the prospective nominees to present their credentials for the job. The party would then officially vote for its nominee March 27 in Springfield.

Quinn claims to have a favorite for the job, but won't say whom.

"I'll have something to say about that at the proper time," he told reporters at the Capitol. He added that an announcement would probably occur before the March 27 selection.

Meanwhile, Quinn backed off his notion that he might call the legislature into special session during its two-week vacation beginning at the end of this month to act on his proposed 33 percent income tax increase that would wipe out $1.3 billion in planned education cuts.

"I don't think that's going to be necessary," Quinn said. "I think it's important the General Assembly address what I talked about last week and do it promptly, because we're in a crisis of epic proportions."