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Scott Lee Cohen, the Democratic nominee for Illinois lieutenant governor, removed himself from the campaign Sunday, freeing Gov. Pat Quinn from the baggage Cohen brought to the ticket, but also leaving him without a running mate.
"I'm someone who made mistakes in my life. And look where I am. If I let you down I'm sorry," Cohen said Sunday evening in a tearful announcement at the Hop Haus Tavern.
For days, the pawn broker-turned Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor was dogged over allegations he abused anabolic steroids, went into fits of rage, sexually abused his then-wife, got behind in child support payments and held a knife to the throat of a former girlfriend who is a convicted prostitute.
But Cohen was never convicted of a crime and said he'd moved on from the transgressions of his past. And after spending a couple of million dollars of his own money on his campaign, he initially refused to step aside.
Democratic candidate for governor, Pat Quinn, called Cohen's decision "the right decision" for the party.
"Now we can continue to focus our efforts on putting our economy back on track and working to bring good jobs to Illinois," Quinn said in a statement.
The vacancy leaves state party leaders -- not the electorate -- with the responsibility of replacing him on the ballot.
Sunday's announcement came after a meeting with House Speaker Michael Madigan in Chicago where Cohen was encouraged in a "very direct and frank" manner to drop out of the race, Madigan aide Steve Brown told the Chicago Tribune.
Madigan will work with members of the Democratic State Central Committee, Gov. Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton to find a replacement, Brown said.
The selection task falls to the DSCC, which is made of a male and female representative from each of the state's 19 congressional districts. The DSCC is not required to pick from Cohen's primary competitors.
On Saturday, ex-girlfriend Amanda Eneman released a statement through attorneys Saturday evening saying Cohen was unfit to hold public office.
The statement, released by high-profile California attorney Gloria Allred, acknowledges that Amanda Eneman lived with Cohen "some 4-5 years ago."
"Based on her personal observations, during the course of their relationship and his behavior, Ms. Eneman does not believe that he is fit to hold any public office, including that of Lt. Governor," the statement read.