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Is Sheila Simon the Right Choice?

Blake D. Dvorak

sheila simon.jpg

Sheila Simon

I confess, I'm not up to speed on the career and politics of Sheila Simon, other than being the daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon. (She doesn't even have a Wiki page!) But there's a lot of grumbling out there amongst Democrats, many of whom are upset at Quinn for overlooking Art Turner, the runner-up in the lt. gov. primary. It's hard to blame them or Turner for feeling cheated. After all, how many votes did Sheila Simon get in the primary?

Not to mention that the quick dismissal of Sen. Susan Garrett (Lake Forest) for apparently opposing Quinn's tax hike was a bit odd. Clearly, Quinn is hoping to fill some gaps on the ticket and picking a woman tops his list. (Recall the governor's courting of Tammy Duckworth earlier this year.) Garrett, however, is from the North Shore and Quinn probably figured that would work against him downstate.

Which brings me to Eric Zorn's post today:

The only reason she became the third woman to jump to the top of Quinn's list of potential running mates -- after U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs official Tammy Duckworth and state Sen. Susan Garrett -- is that she's the daughter of the late  Sen. Paul Simon,  a downstate icon whom even his Republican foes recognized as pillar of integrity.
Of course if this was a presidential race no one would be criticizing Quinn for taking politics into account in his choice of running mates. It wouldn't even be an issue. That's what running mates are for. But Zorn makes a good point here:

The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor is Jason Plummer, an inexperienced downstater who's an ideological clone of their candidate for governor, Bill Brady.  When the candidacy of Democratic nominee Scott Lee Cohen imploded,  Quinn and party leaders had a chance to choose a No. 2 that contrasted with Plummer and with Quinn in ways that would appeal to independent and undecided voters -- someone whose resume actually suggests a readiness to become governor if the necessity arose.

Instead Quinn has chosen an inexperienced downstater who's his ideological clone. She contrasts with him only in her gender and brings little more to the ticket than a famous last name.

The biggest obstacle for Simon in the near future is honing her political skills. She had served in the Carbondale City Council, but that probably isn't the most intense school of hard politics. Plummer might be inexperienced, but he did manage to win a statewide primary.

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