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Gov. Quinn loses running mate and ground in poll — all in same day

Gov. PQuinn gets hug from Lt. Gov. SheilSimafter Quinn delivered his State Budget address joint sessiGeneral Assembly House floor State

Gov. Pat Quinn gets a hug from Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon after Quinn delivered his State of the Budget address to a joint session of the General Assembly on the House floor at the State Capitol on Feb. 16. | The Associated Press

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Updated: March 15, 2013 1:48PM

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn got hit on two political fronts Wednesday when a new poll showed him trailing Attorney General Lisa Madigan in a possible Democratic primary matchup, and Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon bowed out as his 2014 running mate.

Simon announced Wednesday that she was setting her sights on another statewide office, though she informed Quinn of her decision in December.

Simon told the governor she was interested in running for state comptroller, an office now held by Republican Judy Baar Topinka. Simon’s name also has been mentioned for attorney general should Madigan run against Quinn.

“Serving as lieutenant governor has given me an opportunity to advocate on important issues that affect our state, but it is time for me to do even more,” Simon said in a prepared statement. “I want to serve the people of Illinois in a role where I can have an even greater impact.”

Simon telegraphed her disinterest in being Quinn’s 2014 running mate in an interview last Friday with the Chicago Sun-Times.

The governor Wednesday showed no outward signs of stress over her decision.

Asked if he tried to talk her into staying on his ticket, Quinn said at an unrelated Chicago news conference, “She told me she pretty much thought about this and had other ambitions.”

He said they remain “very good friends” and that he wishes her well.

As for what he would look for in a new running mate, Quinn said, “I think our government in Illinois more than anything needs men and women of integrity in high position.”

But the timing of Simon’s announcement couldn’t have come at a worse time for the governor as it amounted to part of a one-two political punch aimed his way.

Earlier Wednesday, a poll released by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute showed Quinn continues to face an uphill re-election climb with his job-approval ratings appearing to be declining.

Among Democrats, the governor trails the three-term attorney general in a hypothetical 2014 matchup by a 31.9 percent to 22.9 percent margin, the poll showed. Former U.S. Commerce Secretary and White House Chief of Staff William Daley, the brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, drew 11.9 percent.

The survey was was based on the responses of 600 registered voters between Jan. 27 and Feb. 8. The margin of error in the Democratic sample was plus or minus 5.5 percentage points, while the spread for Republicans stood at plus or minus 7.2 percentage points.

A Quinn aide attributed his poll standing to continued fallout from his role in increasing the state income tax, cutting Medicaid benefits and angering labor with his push to cut pensions, close state facilities and withhold pay raises to government workers.

“Real leadership requires tough decisions and unfortunately, our predecessors may have been able to do easy popular things, but we’re cleaning up quite a mess,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. “Tough decisions aren’t immediately popular, or they wouldn’t be tough.”

Madigan’s office did not respond to a message seeking comment on the survey’s results.

The poll also looked at the potential Republican field for governor next year, putting state Treasurer Dan Rutherford atop the pack.

He held a narrow lead over state Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), the GOP’s 2010 nominee for governor. The spread between those two stood at 10.2 percent for Rutherford and 9.7 percent for Brady.

Rounding out the potential GOP field, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill) had 9.1 percent, former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) at 5.9 percent and state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) at 3.2 percent, the Simon poll showed.

Venture capitalist Bruce Rauner — an investor in Wrapports, LLC, the parent of the Chicago Sun-Times — wasn’t included in the poll.

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