SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Ill. state Rep. Jack Franks says there’s a quicker way to eliminate the lieutenant governor office than a constitutional amendment: Don’t pick a replacement running mate to stand with Gov. Pat Quinn.

Franks, a Democrat from Woodstock, said the Democratic Party’s central committee members should leave the party’s No. 2 spot open for the November general election after surprise primary winner Scott Lee Cohen resigned earlier this week.

“By allowing Quinn to handpick his running mate, we are taking away the power of the voters,” Franks said.

Cohen, a Chicago pawnbroker, shocked Democrats when he beat several state lawmakers for the lieutenant governor nomination. Cohen dropped out of the race Sunday after allegations of abuse against his ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend were reported.

In Illinois, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately during the primary election and the nominees run as a team for the general election.

Franks said Cohen did the right thing by resigning and that he supports proposals to eliminate the office through constitutional amendments but suggested Quinn could do away with the office faster by running alone.

House Speaker Michael Madigan filed a constitutional amendment to eliminate the office yesterday, but that process takes three-fifths approval from both legislative chambers and approval from voters during the November general election. State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, has also proposed eliminating the office.

Quinn has expressed opposition to eliminating the office he served in for six years until becoming governor following Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment in January 2009. In a statement from his office yesterday, Quinn said the lieutenant governor should be an “ombudsman” for Illinois.

The lieutenant governor has few constitutional duties other than replacing a governor who leaves or is removed from office. The lieutenant governor was given a salary of $135,669 and an office budget of $2.1 million for 2009.

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