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New way to pick ‘lite guv’

Published: Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

When Illinoisans elect a governor and lieutenant governor next year, voters won’t know how effective the new team will be at solving the state’s thorny financial and pension problems.

But the public will be fairly certain that the newly elected governor and lieutenant governor, aka “lite guv,” should get along.

That’s because of a change in the law that requires candidates for those positions to run as a team in the party primaries.

No more will major gubernatorial candidates find themselves paired with less-than-desirable partners, as occurred in 2010 when Democratic primary voters nominated Chicago pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen as the lieutenant governor candidate to run with Gov. Pat Quinn.

Order was quickly restored after Cohen was prevailed upon to step down, and Sheila Simon was appointed to be Quinn’s running mate.

Because of the new law, we’ve learned who the four Republican candidates’ preferred running mates are. Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to announce his; Simon, currently his lieutenant governor, is running for state comptroller.

Last week, Bruce Rauner, a retired Chicago-area business executive, named Evelyn Sanguinetti, a Wheaton City Council member, as his running mate.

Other GOP gubernatorial hopefuls and their running mates are:

• Dan Rutherford, Illinois treasurer, who picked attorney Steve Kim, the 2010 GOP nominee for attorney general.

• Bill Brady, state senator and 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee, who selected Maria Rodriguez, village president of Long Grove.

• Kirk Dillard, state senator, who chose Jil Tracy, a state representative from Mount Sterling.

Those choices are not insignificant. Of the previous 10 lieutenant governors, three became governor (two by succession, one by running on his own).

Each choice reveals something about a gubernatorial candidate’s priorities and decision-making abilities.

People should give those political choices the scrutiny they deserve, keeping in mind that the Illinois political class no longer trusts voters to nominate lieutenant governor candidates on their own.

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