Paul Vallas To Join Quinn On Dem Ticket

Nov 8, 2013

Paul Vallas

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has selected former head of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas as his running mate.

It was widely assumed that Quinn, like his Republican opponents, would choose a woman, a minority, or someone from downstate - to be his candidate for lieutenant governor.

Conventional political wisdom says that would have been his ticket to winning over a new voting bloc.

Instead, the governor surprised observers and picked Paul Vallas.  

Vallas currently heads a large school district in Connecticut, where he's facing questions over his qualifications and residency.  Previously, New Orleans had called him in to head its public schools, following Hurricane Katrina. To the likely dismay of Illinois' powerful teachers' unions, he embraced school choice.

But Vallas is best known for turning around Chicago Public Schools' budget in the late 90's.

Or for what he did upon leaving that post: narrowly losing the Democratic primary for governor in 2002, to Rod Blagojevich.

In a statement, Quinn says he's known Vallas for 30 years, and calls him "an independent problem solver with a proven record of reform."

A quote from Vallas credits the governor for having "tackled the hard issues" and making the "right decisions to get Illinois back on track."

Quinn has no primary opposition; he'll eventually face one of four Republicans vying for the GOP's nomination for governor.

The current lieutenant governor, Sheila Simon, announced in February that she was will abandon Quinn to seek a different office -- she's running for comptroller against Republican Judy Baar Topinka.  In a statement, Simon says Vallas and Quinn will "make a great team."