If nothing else, Scott Lee Cohen's decision to run for governor has certainly spiced up the race. In about 24 hours, Cohen has been bashed by his competitors, accused of paying people to act as supporters during his bid announcement and jokingly said that the solution to Illinois' budget crisis is to "shoot all the elected politicians" on a radio show.
Cohen won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor but dropped out of the race after allegations of forced sex, steroid use and child support delinquency came to light. After weeks of speculation, he decided to announce that he would run for governor as an independent on Monday.
"I am not perfect, but I am honest," Cohen said Monday, mentioning the drama surrounding his ouster. "I was with people who did not have my best interests at heart. But I have moved on. That was five years ago. And like many of you, I have restarted my life."
The drama, however, has not gone anywhere. On Tuesday, Cohen appeared on WIND AM's Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson Show, where the hosts asked him what he would do to fix the state's massive deficit.
"Shoot all the elected politicians," Cohen quipped. The hosts were quick to point out that his statement was begging for a headline. He followed up with this:
"You know the old joke, what do you call 500 politicians at the bottom of a lake? A good start," he said laughing. (Listen to the clip from the show here.)
His ill advised "lets kill the politicians" jokes will probably not help him gain respect from his competitors--who are already dismissing his run.
Gov. Pat Quinn: "I really have no interest in talking to Mr. Cohen. I bumped into him at the ballpark opening day and I said hello to him and he said he had a surprise for me. Well, y'know. I've been competitive all my life. And I can handle any competition. And I think whether it's Senator Brady with his extreme record opposing things that help working women to Mr. Cohen to his record both in his private and public life, I think I'm a much superior candidate to both of them."
Sen. Bill Brady: Whether he manages to get on the ballot or not, Scott Lee Cohen is certainly in a position to speak about the backroom deals he's seen during this unusual saga. Regardless of who ends up being a candidate for governor in November, Bill Brady will continue to call for a clean break from the old politics in Illinois.
Green Party Nominee Rich Whitney: Even assuming that he gets on the ballot, I am not overly concerned by Mr. Cohen's presence in the race. He seems to be positioning himself as some sort of centrist. But being in the "center" between two candidates who each support devastating cuts to education and essential social services, who won't fix our broken tax system, and who have no original ideas for creating real job opportunities for Illinoisans, is nothing to brag about.
Last but not least, WBEZ reports that Cohen may have paid people to act as supporters during his Monday announcement at the Thompson Center. WBEZ reports:
Two of them, who were understandably shy about sharing this information, told me they were promised $10 to show up. They say they were recruited at "the pawn shop." They also told me they hadn't yet been paid.
After the rally, a group of about a half-dozen Cohen rally attendees walked, mostly together, down to the 400 block of South Clark Street. At least one walked into Royal Pawn Shop, and at least a few others walked into a "MEN ONLY" hotel in the same building as the pawn shop.
And who owns Royal Pawn Shop? Royal Redemption Services, according to the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation, a company owned by Randy Cohen, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. Randy is identified in multiple news clips as one of Scott Lee Cohen's brothers.
Cohen has yet to get the signatures he needs to get on the ballot in November, but he sure is good at making headlines.
WATCH Cohen announce his campaign here: