SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Pat Quinn said he's ready to take on Scott Lee Cohen in the general election if the embattled Chicago pawnbroker publicly announces he's making an independent run for the state's highest office.
"When all is said and done, there will be a robust contest of ideas," Quinn said.
Quinn said he recently ran into Cohen at a White Sox game where Cohen told the governor to "get ready for a big surprise." If Cohen plans to make another stab at state office, he'll have to file a petition with 25,000 signatures before June 21 to make it on the November ballot.
"If you can get the signatures - and it's a healthy number - you can do whatever you want," Quinn said about a possible challenge from Cohen, who at one point was going to be Quinn's running mate. "The people decide."
Democratic voters pegged Cohen as the party's nominee for lieutenant governor, but he dropped out after allegations of domestic violence and steroid abuse surfaced. Carbondale resident Sheila Simon is now the party's nominee for the post.
Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan met with Cohen Saturday where the former lieutenant governor nominee broke the news that he'd run for governor as an independent.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said Madigan told Cohen he'd be supporting the Democratic ticket.