Illinois: Why Sheila Simon Lost in Carbondale

It's easy to see why, coming off the Scott Lee Cohen debacle, Gov. Pat Quinn wants the Illinois Democratic Party to pick Sheila Simon ...
by | March 26, 2010
 

It's easy to see why, coming off the Scott Lee Cohen debacle, Gov. Pat Quinn wants the Illinois Democratic Party to pick Sheila Simon to be his new running mate.

As the daughter of former U.S. senator Paul Simon, she has a famous, popular last name. She's from downstate. She's a woman.

But, there's one blemish on Simon's résumé: Her defeat in the 2007 race for mayor of Carbondale, Illinois. How did the daughter of a well-liked U.S. senator fail to win a local election in a town of 26,000 people?

From looking back at the limited number of newspaper clips about the race, there's no indication that Simon made some horrible blunder. She was running against the incumbent mayor (a Republican), so her loss wasn't that surprising.

If there's any sign of an error on Simon's part, it's that she didn't act like a candidate who was running for mayor of Carbondale. From a Chicago Tribune article at the time:

Simon had trotted out prominent Democrats, including U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, during her campaign. Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan held a fundraiser for Simon in Chicago.

But the parade of prominent political outsiders apparently annoyed some voters in Downstate Illinois who resent upstate influences.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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