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Only a Pawnbroker in Their Game

04/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I didn't vote for Scott Lee Cohen for lieutenant governor when I cast my ballot in the recent Democratic primary election. I backed one of his opponents. It's also highly unlikely that I'll vote for Cohen in the November general election -- on the off-chance he's still in the race. That said, the last thing I want to see is the People's Pawnbroker getting pushed off the Democratic ticket by Mike Madigan, Pat Quinn, and Alexi Giannoulias. Unfortunately, I fully expect that sort of anti-democratic behavior from the party that (for some unknown reason) I've continued to support since I turned 18 back in 1982.

The people of Illinois spoke on February 2. To be sure, most of them spoke by staying home, but the few who actually voted gave Cohen a victory. Absent some showing of voter fraud -- which I'm not sure is even considered a crime in this state -- Cohen's victory should stand. I know, I know -- Cohen would be a "heartbeat or an indictment away" from being the governor of Illinois. And should Patrick Fitzgerald's office or Pat Quinn's cholesterol intake thrust Cohen into the governor's mansion, Illinois would survive. Truth be told, a Cohen administration might not even rank among the top ten low points in our state's political history.

Let's recap. Cohen won the popular vote on February 2. To date, the guy has been convicted of no crime. Back in March 2009, he discussed some of his troubled past with Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times. Despite those revelations, no journalists or Democratic insiders ever bothered to follow up on Cohen's story until it was too late. My own alderman, Berny Stone (50th Ward), endorsed him. Sure, Cohen may be handy with a needle and a knife (provided he's first had a good massage to loosen him up), but that shouldn't disqualify him from remaining on the ticket. Tennessee's Bill Frist was also handy with knife and needle, and he went on become our nation's Senate Majority Leader.

Elections have consequences, folks. I say that to the registered voters who stayed home on February 2 and to the local media outlets that spend their ever-dwindling resources covering Tiger Woods and the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore, instead of covering issues that matter. Let's treat the "Cohen incident" as a learning experience and try to do better in the future.

The sad truth is that a Cohen candidacy would do little to increase the stench and toxicity of the Illinois Democratic party that I continue to call home. Nevertheless, I fully expect to see a Springfield insider as the party's candidate for lieutenant governor in November. The people spoke on February 2, but I doubt our leaders care.