SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Pat Quinn offered no hints about his thinking on the eve of this afternoon's anticipated announcement of his preferred running mate.
But it was clear suburban state Sen. Susan Garrett will not be chosen by Quinn to campaign to be his lieutenant governor, filling a vacancy left by the dramatic exit of Chicago pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen.
Garrett, a Lake Forest Democrat, said late Thursday she was informed she will not be picked by Quinn as news swirled that the governor could turn to downstater Sheila Simon, the daughter of one of his reform-minded mentors, the late Sen. Paul Simon.
Simon told the Daily Herald she talked to Quinn Thursday and got no clear indication of his choice. She said she had no plans to go to Chicago today where Quinn has scheduled a 2 p.m. campaign news conference.
Meanwhile, primary runner-up Art Turner of Chicago continued to make his case to Quinn Thursday as supporters argued the governor could disenfranchise black voters if he is passed over.
Garrett's name was thrust into the spotlight over Turner just a week ago as political observers thought her selection was a given because she could have provided much-needed gender and suburban balance to the ticket.
Simon's benefit to Quinn would be to counteract the Republican ticket of Bloomington state Sen. Bill Brady and Edwardsville lieutenant governor nominee Jason Plummer.
Other downstaters under consideration include Peoria businessman David Koehler. He said late Thursday he had not heard from the governor or his staff.
Turner supporters held a news conference Thursday seeking to bolster his chances while suggesting there could be political repercussions if Quinn looks elsewhere.
State Rep. Charles Jefferson, a Rockford Democrat, said the party's selection of anyone other than Turner might be viewed as an affront to black voters, who overwhelmingly supported Quinn in the close primary.
"A lot of people are going to say maybe this is a slap in the face to the African-American community," Jefferson said.
Turner, a Chicago state representative, is an ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan, who heads the Illinois Democratic Party.
Turner said he also met with Quinn and discussed politics and campaign issues. But he received no indication of who would be picked. He said he planned to be in Springfield today for the ongoing legislative session.
Ultimately, who should run with Quinn is up to the Democratic Party's state central committee, which plans to vote on a nominee Saturday in Springfield.
Quinn is not a member of that committee, which includes two elected officials from the state's 19 congressional districts.
However, several committeemen have indicated Quinn's pick would hold sway over their vote.
The committee must pick the nominee after the withdrawal primary winner Cohen, who faced a storm of controversy over admitted steroid abuse and domestic violence allegations.