Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced Wednesday that she won't be running for reelection, but hinted that she'll likely be campaigning for another, as yet unnamed elected office in the state.
In a brief press conference Wednesday morning, Simon announced that she plans to "explore other opportunities to serve the people of Illinois" and hopes to "serve the people of Illinois in a role where I can have an even greater impact," the State Journal-Register reports. She did not go into details about what that could specifically mean.
According to ABC Chicago, Simon, the daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, informed Gov. Pat Quinn of her decision last December, but the news still came as a shock to some of the governor's top aides.
Simon's announcement means that Gov. Quinn will need to find a new running mate as he begins to gear up for what is expected to be a competitive 2014 gubernatorial race in Illinois.
Some of the governor's biggest competition is expected to come from within his own party -- and recent polling has suggested the odds are not in the incumbent's favor.
Owing largely to the state's financial struggles, Gov. Quinn has polled as the nation's least popular governor and, in a new poll coincidentally released Wednesday by the the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale, the governor was polling nine percentage points behind state Attorney General Lisa Madigan in a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup.
The poll had a 5.5 percentage point margin of error, the Capitol Fax blog pointed out, and -- to be fair to Illinois' very own Rodney Dangerfield -- Madigan held a 34-percentage point edge over Quinn in a Public Policy Polling poll released last fall, so the Wednesday survey, small sample and all, is an improvement.
With Lisa Madigan "seriously thinking" about attempting to unseat Gov. Quinn next year, that would free up her current post -- or Simon might instead aim to challenge Republican state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka or run for state Treasurer.