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posted: 3/24/2010 12:01 AM

Garrett downplays Lt. Gov. front-runner talk

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  • Susan Garrett

    Susan Garrett


SPRINGFIELD - Several of Susan Garrett's colleagues touted her as likely to end up with the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, but the Lake Forest state senator told reporters Tuesday not to be surprised if it goes to someone else.

Garrett was the surprise late entry to the nomination process, attending a Chicago interview session on Saturday and a series of previously scheduled town hall meetings across the suburbs with the assistance of a driver provided by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn's outreach to Garrett and assistance - something not provided to others - only fueled political speculation she's the front-runner to fill the nomination left vacant when Scott Lee Cohen gave it up amid personal controversy.

Garrett downplayed both the assistance and the speculation.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the selection was not me," Garrett said, insisting the driver was not special treatment.

"I think if I was asking for preferential treatment I would have said. 'Gee, I can't make it, - can you (interview) me separately?'" Garrett said.

Although Quinn has assisted Garrett, she and the governor split on tax increases. Garrett reiterated Tuesday that she does not believe the case has been made for Quinn's income tax increase.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Rickey Hendon, a Chicago Democrat who unsuccessfully sought the nomination, told reporters Garrett would be "excellent" as lieutenant governor and helps balance the ticket.

"Plus, she's not from Cook County," Hendon said. "If you're not going to go downstate, at least stay out of Cook County. That's just if I was a political strategist."

Hendon and Garrett infamously clashed over legislative pay raises in 2008, with Hendon wanting one and Garrett rallying media support to block it. At the time, he called her "filthy rich."

Hendon downplayed past differences as "minor" and said his advice to Garrett would be to get out and experience all of the state.

"As long as Susan comes down on Madison and Sacramento and sees how people live, I think she'll be great," Hendon said. "She has a kind heart."

The Democratic Party's central committee plans to select the nominee this Saturday.