Quinn: Cohen Should Step Aside

Cohen allegedly held a knife to a girlfriend's neck

Governor Pat Quinn said today that the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor, Scott Lee Cohen, should step aside in light of recent domestic violence allegations  -- but Cohen said he's not budging.

Cohen, a pawn broker who surprised everyone by winning the nomination for Lt. Governor, was today implicated in two domestic violence incidents: in one, he allegedly threatened a former girlfriend with a deadly weapon, and in the second, he was accused of abusing anabolic steroids and threatening his family.

"When grave matters are raised about a nominee, if you don't answer satisfactorily then you have to step aside -- and that's how I think this will go," Quinn said at an afternoon press conference. "I think it will happen. Stakes are high."

Quinn said he wants a law changed so that he has ability to pick his own running mate replace Cohen, though he wouldn't speculate on a replacement.

Cohen says he's not going anywhere.

“I have no intention of stepping down or stepping aside," Cohen said in an e-mailed statement. "When the facts come to light, after my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend speak, the people of Illinois can decide, and I will listen to them directly."

Cohen also said he was "asking my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend to come forward and to talk with the media," raising the prospect that an admitted prostitute would publicly defend a Democratic nominee for state office.

Cohen's incident occured in 2005, but was dismissed by the court when the plaintiff didn't show up in court. But the Sun-Times obtained court records, including a police report that said Cohen held "a knife up to complainant's neck causing minor scars."

When asked about the Sun-Times report, Cohen said only that he was having a hard time five years ago.

"It was a difficult time in my life. I was going through a divorce, and I fell in with the wrong crowd," Cohen told the paper. "I was in a tumultuous relationship with the woman I was dating. We had a fight, but I never touched her."

"She never came to court and the charges were dismissed," Cohen said. "I realized this relationship was not healthy for me. I ended it, and we parted amicably."

Cohen's behavior patterns should come as no surprise to Quinn's campaign.

State Sen. Terry Link said he altered Quinn's people about Cohen's history prior to the election. Quinn's campaign manager said they were "aware of it."

Link said he didn't know whether Quinn was ever informed directly.

Of course, the Lt. Gov position is famously near and dear to Quinn's servant's heart.

Quinn served as Lt. Gov. until Blagojevich's ouster elevated him to the top state office. During his primary campaign against Comptroller Dan Hynes, Quinn also defended the office from Hynes' suggestion that it be abolished.

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