Gov. Pat Quinn's new running mate, Paul Vallas, said he has no problem "playing second fiddle, or whatever instrument Pat wants me to play," during a Tuesday campaign kickoff event.
Quinn and Vallas, the former head of Chicago Public Schools who lost the Democratic nomination for governor in 2002 to Rod Blagojevich, appeared together for the first time as a ticket at the Hotel Allegro on Randolph Street in downtown Chicago.
"I'm a public servant. I gravitate toward taking the big assignments," Vallas told those gathered.
Quinn announced Vallas as his pick in an email Friday. During Tuesday's appearance, the two said addressing the state's pension problems will be a top priority for their ticket. Illinois' unfunded pension liability is close to $100 billion, due largely to lawmakers shorting or skipping payments.
Vallas is leaving his job as school superintendent in Bridgeport, Conn. in order to campaign in Illinois. He's been fighting to keep his job in a court battle waged by his critics.
This is the first year the General Assembly required Illinois' gubernatorial candidates to run with their lieutenant governor picks. The rule was changed after the 2010 lieutenant governor disaster, in which Scott Lee Cohen won the nomination, then was pushed off the ticket.
Quinn's current lieutenant governor, Sheila Simon, is running for comptroller next year.
Blagojevich is serving a 14-year sentence at a federal prison in Englewood, Colo., on a corruption conviction.