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Election Proposal Leaves Lt. Gov. Race Unchanged

Sheila Simon
Illinois.gov
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The Illinois Senate has approved a multi-faceted change to the state's election laws. The legislation is almost as notable for what it does not do, as for what it does.

The proposal would make dozens of changes to state law, including online voter registration. But until Wednesday, the legislation also would have changed how Illinois gets a lieutenant governor.

In 2010, Scott Lee Cohen surprised the political establishment by winning the "lite gov" primary. He was nudged out after unsavory stories from his past surfaced. So IIlinois law was changed to require a gubernatorial candidate pick a running mate before the primary.

But before that system even went through a single election, Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, wanted to change it again — so the gubernatorial candidate could choose a running mate after winning the primary.

Harmon changed his mind: "I recognize that this is a pretty dramatic change on the heels of a pretty dramatic change, and maybe it's prudent to wait and stick with the current rules through one election cycle."

There's dueling speculation the change was intended to help or hurt Gov. Pat Quinn — or his potential primary challengers, like Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Harmon says he did not have contact with the governor's office.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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