Before he won a surprising victory in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, Scott Lee Cohen was rarely in the news. But since then, he can't stop making headlines.
Canceled appearances, rumored meetings and foreboding statements from Cohen himself have fueled speculation that he's planning to run for Illinois governor as an independent.
The speculation began with a report from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed last Wednesday that Cohen was contemplating the bid. It made sense: even as he was leaving the lieutenant governor's race amid a firestorm of scandal, Cohen had left the door open for such a move.
And the night the column ran, Cohen was scheduled to speak at an event at the Erie Cafe. The event was hosted by William J. Kelly, a former Republican candidate for comptroller who has since started the group Reform Chicago NOW. Cohen posted on his Facebook page, "Just a reminder that I will be speaking at the Erie Cafe at 7pm tonight. The group is reform Chicago NOW, I can't think of a better event to speak at. I hope to see some of you there." He also posted a link to the Sneed column.
Kelly told the Chicago Current that Cohen's speech was "going to affect the election this year."
But Cohen didn't show, and the meeting was canceled. Kelly told NBC that Erie Cafe was concerned it would lose its liquor license, but its manager said "with 100 percent certainty" that that wasn't the case.
Conservative blog Chicago News Bench reported a different motivation:
Kelly told Chicago News Bench that Cohen actually drove past the event "about half an hour before" it was scheduled to begin, "but he kept driving." He thinks Cohen might have been "spooked "by the heavy media presence near the Erie Cafe's entrance. Kelly said that Cohen never called to apologize or to explain why he was a no-show.
In any event, the Cohen-for-governor buzz only heightened over the weekend. On Saturday, a source told Fox Chicago that Cohen was meeting with House Speaker Michael Madigan.
When Fox arrived at Madigan's office, they were first told that the meeting was happening, then abruptly told otherwise. First they were told that Madigan wasn't in the office, then when they noticed his door was open, they were told he'd just come in. No rock-solid evidence, but enough to keep the rumor-mill churning.
Then Chicago News Bench reported that Cohen would announce his candidacy on Fox News' Sunday broadcast. Of course, he didn't show.
CNB's headline still blares, "Exclusive: Scott Lee Cohen WILL Run For Governor." They quote Kelly as the source for that claim. But with no official word for now, Cohen just keeps doing what he does best: making headlines.
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