When the Cohen Gets Rough...

High-ranking officials call for lieutenant governor nominee to step aside

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP

    Several high-ranking officials are joining in the chorus for Scott Lee Cohen to step aside and remove the toxicity they say he brings to Gov. Pat Quinn's re-election campaign and the democratic process.

    The pawn broker-turned Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor has been dogged for days 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 happens to be a convicted prostitute.

    As of Friday night, Cohen was allegedly seeking a "honorable" way to abdicate his nomation, according to a Sun-Times report citing an unnamed source.

    Meanwhile, several high-ranking public officials have joined in a chorus asking him to step down.

    Attorney General Lisa Madigan:
    "Scott Lee Cohen should step aside immediately. It is clear that he is unfit to hold public office. The fact that he thinks he’s 'done nothing wrong' just proves that."

    Sen. Dick Durbin:
    "I've heard enough.  And if there's more -- I don't know what it might be -- but I've heard enough to suggest that he should have not run for office."

    Illinois Treasurer & Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Alexi Giannoulias:
    "These revelations are deeply disturbing and there is no place in society let alone public office for this type of behavior."

    Gov. Pat Quinn:
    "When grave matters are raised about a nominee, if you don't answer satisfactorily then you have to step aside."

    Cohen was never convicted of a crime and says he's moved on from the transgressions of his past.  He has every legal right to continue in the race and cannot be forced out.

    "It's all contingent, quite frankly, on Mr. Cohen," said Rep. Danny Davis.  "I don't know that anybody can force him to withdraw his candidacy or get him off the ticket except of his own volition."

    But even if the law says he's innocent until proven guilty, it seems many share the sentiment of MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Friday's episode of Harball:

    "This guy can't possibly win a General Election," he said.

    Gov. Quinn could remove himself from the Democratic party and run as an Independent or Reform party candidate, as Adlai Stevenson did in 1986 when he created the Illinois Solidarity Party, but that's a risky, complicated move.

    Democratic state Rep. John Fritchey said the choices are bad ones for Quinn.

    "Pat undeservedly finds himself in a situation where there's two options which both likely lead to a loss -- one being running with Cohen and two being running on a new party," he said. "We've seen this movie before."