By Monique Garcia and Rick PearsonTribune reporter
11:15 a.m. CST, February 13, 2013
Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon announced today that she will not run again next year, leaving Gov. Pat Quinn searching for a running mate.
“Serving as lieutenant governor has given me an opportunity to advocate on important issues that affect our state but it is time for me to do even more,” Simon said in a statement. “I want to serve the people of Illinois in a role where I can have an even greater impact.”
Simon, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, said at a news conference that she plans to seek a different office, but didn’t say what that might be. Simon said she made the decision in December not to run again for lieutenant governor.
“I spoke to the governor in December and told him that, after completing my term as lieutenant ggovernor, I look forward to serving Illinois in a role where I can be an even more effective advocate,” she said. “In the coming months I will have an announcement about where I can be that best advocate for the state of Illinois.”
Simon, an attorney, has long been interested in a bid for attorney general, should incumbent Lisa Madigan decide to make a run for governor. But Madigan has made no decision and faces a potential conflict due to her father, powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, who also chairs the state Democratic Party.
Simon’s decision leaves her options open for a run for other statewide offices. After serving in an office with few statutory duties and little publicity, her announcement allows her to seek some distance from Quinn, whom polls show is not popular with voters, while also allowing her to pursue a more independent agenda.
Quinn picked Simon in 2010 after Scott Lee Cohen won the Democratic primary and then withdrew following revelations about his past. That led lawmakers to change state law to require governor and lieutenant governor candidates to run as a team in the primary.
The governor now has to find a new running mate for next year’s re-election campaign. Quinn is likely to face questions about Simon’s decision during an afternoon news conference with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Simon has focused on community colleges during her three years in office.
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