UPDATED: 11/8/2013 3:30 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Quinn on Friday selected former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas as his running mate.
“I’ve known Paul Vallas for 30 years and he’s never been shy about fighting for education, reform and opportunities for working people,” Quinn said.
The pick came as a surprise for many in Illinois politics, including at least one alderman who said members of the Black Caucus were expecting the governor to pick an African-American candidate like city treasurer Stephanie Neely, or state Sen. Kwame Raoul.
Despite Quinn’s decision to select a white running mate, Ald. Walter Burnett offered reluctant support for Vallas.
“He was looked at the pensions from the city’s perspective, not just here but in other cities where he has worked,” Burnett said. “So, I think it was a good strategic choice on the governor’s part. Will I say, did it throw me for a loop? Yes, it did. He dug deep in that hat and pulled that one out.”
For the past two years, Vallas was Superintendent of the Bridgeport, Conn., Public Schools.
Despite working out of state, Vallas has a residence in Palos Heights. He has voted by absentee ballot in past Illinois elections and meets the three-year residency requirement to run for office.
He was CEO of Chicago Public Schools for six years (1995-2001) and he also ran school districts in New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Although he has been working out of state for several years, it appears he has maintained legal residency in Illinois since 2008, according to Cook County records. He has been registered to vote in Palos Heights since October 2008, and voted absentee in 2012. He also voted from his Palos Heights address in the general elections in 2008 and 2010.
Vallas ran for governor in Illinois in 2002, losing in the Democratic primary to Rod Blagojevich.
Vallas actually came fairly close to beating Blagojevich in that race. The former Illinois governor got 36.5 percent of the vote, compared with Vallas’ 34.5 percent.
Roland Burris also ran that year and picked up 29 percent.
Blagojevich is now serving prison time in Colorado on federal corruption charges. Before Blagojevich was impeached in 2009, he appointed Burris to the U.S. Senate to fill out President Obama’s remaining term.
Quinn’s current lieutenant governor, Sheila Simon, is running for comptroller next year.