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Kwame Raoul would run for lt. gov., but Quinn’s not asking

Kwame Raoul

Kwame Raoul

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Updated: November 1, 2013 10:08AM

Lately, it’s a question that state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) gets all the time: Would he run as Gov. Pat Quinn’s lieutenant governor?

The answer is basically yes.

One little problem: Quinn’s not asking.

“A lot of people have been calling me,” said Raoul, who told the Chicago Sun-Times he would be open to running as Quinn’s lieutenant governor for the 2014 race. “A lot of people — not the governor — have called and inquired, hearing rumors.”

Raoul, who has headed up legislative efforts on workers compensation, gun reform and now, pension reform, once explored a governor’s bid on his own. He was enough of a threat that others feared he would split the vote and unwittingly help then-Quinn challenger Bill Daley. Raoul dropped out and so, too, did Daley.

Raoul said he would consider the job with a major caveat — that it would come with responsibilities.

“The state Senate hasn’t been an awful place for me, I’ve been able to engage in a lot of things. It’s not the worst place in the world. I don’t have to run for higher office this time around,” Raoul said.

Raoul said he was offended by suggestions that if he ran for governor he would split the African-American vote in the city, thus hurting Quinn.

“It kind of has different assumptions: One, I have a limited appeal, that my appeal would be only to the African-American community. I think the issues I’ve been involved in are issues that appeal to broad communities. And a lot of people who asked me to run were from Downstate,” Raoul said. It also assumes: “The African-American community vote is just a monolithic vote that’s either owed to one person or the other.”

Most would view a Quinn-Raoul ticket as formidable, given Raoul’s stature in his chamber and his ability to negotiate with colleagues — not to mention the attorney’s smarts. It’s a safe move for Raoul too, because he would not have to give up his Senate seat and thus could return to a safe landing pad should Quinn not succeed.

Despite some staffers urging Quinn to tap Raoul, the governor’s strategy has focused lately on an African-American woman, insiders say. Raoul has publicly criticized Quinn in the past — including on setting what many considered an artificial deadline on pension reform in July. Raoul’s role in heading up the conference committee that’s reforming pensions also may not be welcomed by unions.

Raoul said he could work past those things.

“I think I’ve demonstrated a willingness to work and handle difficult issues,” he said.

City Treasurer Stephanie Neely remains among the names in consideration.

“She’s hearing those rumors too and she’s flattered,” spokeswoman Lilia Chacon said. “But there’s been no decision on this and an announcement would come from the governor himself.”

Other names in possible consideration are Downstate Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth and Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough.

Despite the speculation, the Quinn campaign said no decision has been made.

“The governor has not decided who his running mate will be,” said Quinn campaign spokeswoman Leslie Wertheimer. “Any rumor otherwise is inaccurate.”


Twitter: @natashakorecki

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