Gov. Pat Quinn officially made his running mate selection known this afternoon. He wants Sheila Simon.
"This is a very important day," Quinn said speaking at the Allegro Hotel in downtown Chicago. "I do want to commend the party for the open process. Having been Lieutenant Governor, I know it's an important position...My choice is Sheila Simon."
Simon, who has described her own chances of being a nominee "a long shot", is a former member of the Carbondale City Council and a member of Quinn's government reform commission. She threw her hat into the ring ealier this month with a YouTube campaign video.
Simon's nomination comes as a surprise, given widely published media reports that Quinn was favoring State Sen. Susan Garrett for the position.
"I think its important to have downstate balance," Quinn said today. "It's important to have a downstater."
Having Simon on the ticket will ostensibly help Quinn defend against any charges of ethical impropriety.
The Illinois Democratic Party is expected to affirm that decision on Saturday. But Quinn cautioned that the DSCC has the final word.
"No guarantees in life," he said in response to whether Speaker Mike Madigan has promised Simon will win approval.
Despite Quinn's pick, Rep. Art Turner, who came in second in the original Lt. Gov. primary, said today he was not conceding.
"They said they would make deference to the governor's nomination. And based on that I anticipate I have a chance," Turner said to Rich Miller in Springfield.
Raja Krishnamoorthi, the comptroller candidate who was also named to Quinn's "Sweet 17" short list, has also said he will continue to lobby for the position.
"Raja looks forward to presenting his credentials tomorrow before the full democratic State Central Committee," a spokesperson said via e-mail. "The 38 members of the Democratic State Central Committee will make the final decision rearding who will be the Lieutenant Governor nominee. Raja has been in contact with members of the DSCC making his case that he has the best chance to help the Democratic ticket to win independent voters in November."
Should Simon win DSCC approval, her status as running mate would not be without historical irony. It was Sheila Simon's father, the late Paul Simon who served as Lt. Gov. from 1969-1973, who is largely responsible for making this post-Scott Lee Cohen situation possible in the first place.
At the time, Quinn called Cohen's move "the right decision."