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updated: 2/4/2010 10:37 AM

Arrest raises questions about new Dem. candidate for lt. gov.

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  • Scott Cohen

    Scott Cohen

By Robert McCoppin

Democratic party leaders in Illinois were wondering what to make of their new lieutenant governor candidate today after disclosures that he was once arrested on a charge of battery against a prostitute.

Scott Lee Cohen, 44, of Chicago, who has never held elected office, shocked the party by winning the nomination for lieutenant governor Tuesday.

He had previously admitted his arrest on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in October of 2005, but the details are just now coming to light.

Cohen's girlfriend at the time accused him of holding a knife to her throat and hitting her head against a wall, leaving mild abrasions and a bump.

The charges were dropped when the women failed to appear in court.

The woman later got court supervision for an unrelated prostitution charge.

"Unfortunately, I was going through a divorce, and I found myself running with the wrong people," Cohen said. "I got involved with a young lady. It was a tumultuous relationship, to say the least.

"We had a fight. She accused me of doing something I never did. It was a false allegation. She never went to court and the case was dismissed."

Gov. Pat Quinn, who was nominated by the Democrats to run for re-election, has to share the party ticket with Cohen as the lieutenant governor candidate.

Quinn told WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" that he wanted to learn more about the incident before passing judgment.

State Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan, who finished third in the Democratic race for lieutenant governor, accused Cohen of being unqualified and trying to "buy an election."

Cohen said he spent about $2 million, compared to the $300,000 Link spent, but credited his victory on getting out and listening to voters.

Cohen got into politics after starting Rod Must Resign, aimed at forcing former Gov. Blagojevich from office.

In the closing days of the campaign, Cohen ran numerous radio and television commercials promoting his job fairs.

Cohen, 44, took over his late father's business at 48th and Ashland in Chicago, State Pawners & Jewelers, in high school, and got a high school equivalency degree.

He also owns Cohen's Green Cleaning Supplies and commercial and residential buildings.

On the Republican side, State Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine was deciding whether to seek a recount.

He finished second to downstate businessman Jason Plummer.

Plummer is vice president of the R.P. Lumber family business, a chain of lumber yards and real estate development.

Plummer, 27, has never held elected governmental office, but he is former chairman of the Republican Party in Madison County.

He has worked with the conservative Heritage Foundation and is an intelligence officer with the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Green Party nominee Don Crawford was unopposed. All candidates are planning to run in the November general election.