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Comedy from Obama’s Home State

Senator Durbin wants his state’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor to step aside:

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin this morning joined the chorus of voices calling for Scott Lee Cohen to step aside, even as the embattled Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor gave no indication he plans to do so.

“He really should spare himself, and his friends and family what he’s about to go through,” Durbin said this morning in Evanston, speaking to WBBM-AM (780). “I’m afraid the disclosures so far really disqualify him.”

On Thursday, Gov. Quinn called for Cohen to step down if he couldn’t adequately explain an October 2005 domestic-battery arrest.

Cohen also allegedly abused anabolic steroids, displayed fits of rage and forced himself sexually on his wife before their divorce, court documents reviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Well, maybe Cohen can run in a more steroid-friendly state, like California.

It gets funnier. Because of how Illinois runs its election for governor, Governor Quinn has to run on the same ticket as Cohen:

If Scott Lee Cohen, the guy once accused by his ex-girlfriend of holding a knife to her throat, refuses to step aside as the Democrats’ nominee for lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn has only one option:

Quit the Democratic ticket and run for governor as an independent.

Unless, of course, Cohen can convincingly clear up a whole slew of ugly accusations.

But let’s talk about the bigger problem.

Why can’t Illinois, home to the world’s first self-sustained nuclear reaction, come up with a sensible way to pick a lieutenant governor?

Instead, we’ve suffered a long-running sideshow of discontent.

In 1970, Illinois revised its Constitution to solve this problem: Candidates from different parties could win the top two jobs in the state. That’s exactly what happened in 1968, when Republican Richard Ogilvie was elected governor while Democrat Paul Simon was elected lieutenant governor.

Under the new system, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run independently in the primary election but are required to run as a team in the fall.

And that has made splitting the atom look like a quiet affair.

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