SPRINGFIELD - Stevan Kreger worked at a plastic-coloring plant for more than 30 years until his job was outsourced to China. Now, the 60-year-old South Elgin native has his sights set on a new job: lieutenant governor of the state of Illinois.
"I have a feeling I could probably do just as well as all the goofballs that get in there," Kreger said.
Kreger joins more than 200 other Illinoisans, nearly a third of whom are from the suburbs, who have submitted their names to the state's Democratic Party to fill the lieutenant governor slot on the November ballot.
The party started fielding names after Chicago pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen withdrew his nomination because a furor around allegations of steroid abuse and domestic violence crippled his candidacy in the days after the Feb. 2 primary.
The state party's plan is to convene meetings throughout the state Saturday to allow the prospective nominees to present their credentials for the job. Sessions are scheduled in Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates. The party will then meet in Springfield March 27 to select its nominee.
Applying for the job wasn't difficult. A few clicks on the party's Web site, answering five simple questions and sending an e-mail put candidates in consideration for the No. 2 slot in state government.
For weeks, the list changed almost daily as people added their applications and others dropped out.
No special political background is needed - Kreger notes in his application that "no one has endorsed me except my wife" - but candidates will have to complete an extensive questionnaire that reaches deep into their professional and personal lives.
The throng of applicants has its fair share of colorful characters - some of whom aren't even Democrats. A stereo salesman from Hoffman Estates, an unemployed sheet metal worker from Batavia and a substitute teacher from Warrenville are just a few of the Illinoisans looking to be Gov. Pat Quinn's running mate.
Robert Greene, a 39-year-old truck mechanic from Carpentersville, applied for the job because he wants to see somebody who can do "something different" as the next lieutenant governor. Greene, who also works a second job at Whole Foods in Palatine, wants to see a lieutenant governor who will hold others accountable.
"I want to get people's attention, because politics in Illinois is all about nepotism, paying bribes and whose lobbyist is in your back pocket," said Greene, adding that he's sure he has no realistic chance for the nod.
Lake Forest state Sen. Susan Garrett is also interested in the post, though as of Friday she'd not formally applied for it. State Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat who is seeking the job after an unsuccessful campaign for it during the primary, called the entire application process "ludicrous," saying the nominee should have been one of the other five people who originally sought the post.
"Now that it became a publicity stunt and it became a lot easier for somebody possibly to obtain the job, they're all coming out of the woodwork," Link said. "I question the real desire. If they had this desire, why weren't they out there last July and August when we were gearing up and getting petitions?"
Also looking for another shot at the nomination is Chicago state Rep. Art Turner, who finished second to Cohen at the polls. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley recently said Turner should get the nomination.
Former deputy treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi, who lost his bid for the Democratic nomination for comptroller by less than 1 percent of the vote, tossed his name in for consideration after his name started circulating on blogs as a possible replacement for Cohen.
Krishnamoorthi, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, applauded the selection process, saying it displays an aura of transparency often lacking in Illinois politics.
"The bottom line is we need to find the very best candidate who can complement Gov. Quinn and win the fall election," he said.
Meanwhile, Steve Brown, spokesman for Illinois House Speaker and Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan, said the party has been letting applicants know the information they submit will be posted online. Some who hold public offices had listed their government offices as contact numbers and were informed that might be inappropriate.
Brown also said a few of the hopefuls were eliminated outright either because they were too young or not from Illinois.
• Daily Herald staff writers Larissa Chinwah and John Patterson contributed to this report.