Gov. Quinn picks Paul Vallas for 2014 running mate

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Paul Vallas wanted to run for governor himself in 2002 and again in 2005. Now he will run as the governor’s running mate.

Vallas has just released a statement saying he has been presented with an unexpected and extraordinary opportunity.

In a statement of his own, Governor Quinn says “I’ve known Paul for 30 years; he’s never been shy about fighting for education, reform and opportunities for working people.”

Vallas is the former Chicago Public Schools CEO, a very well-known name in political circles, and not just here in Chicago. He led the school systems in Philadelphia and New Orleans after leaving CPS, and has never really left the thoughts of political insiders here in Illinois.

Vallas fills the spot left by Sheila Simon, who plans to run for state comptroller.

Is there some disappointment in the African American community? Yes. City treasurer Stephanie Neely was a leading candidate and says she learned she was no longer in the running from reporters Friday.

“I was honored to be a part of this discussion.  If I’m not chosen, I’m okay with that too because I can serve as the city’s treasurer.  I’m going to be the best treasurer the city has ever had.  If it’s Paul Vallas or someone else I wish them the best of luck.  I’m going to support them, but you know, I’m happy where I am. I love my job,” Neely said.

State Senator Kwame Raoul, the governor’s pension reform point man, also considered a leading contender– also contends he’s happy where he is.

Less happy- the Chicago Teachers Union, familiar with Vallas from his time as schools boss in a statement saying:

“While he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Vallas pioneered the corporate driven education model in our city. His policies continue to devastate our school system.”

Vallas says he’s honored to join forces with someone he calls the strongest reform governor in the country. However, there are some questions being raised about his eligibility to run here. The state constitution requires statewide candidates to be Illinois residents for three years prior to the election. That’s the part I’ve been talking to the governor’s office about. They call residency a non-issue.  They say the Vallas family has never truly left Illinois and expect to see him hitting the campaign trail with the governor middle of next week.

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