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Vallas Pick A Surprise To Other Lieutenant Governor Contenders

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Former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas (right), with former mayoral candidate Gery Chico. (Credit/File Photo: Craig Dellimore/WBBM)

Former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas (right), with former mayoral candidate Gery Chico. (Credit/File Photo: Craig Dellimore/WBBM)

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – Paul Vallas, the former Chicago School CEO and political candidate, will make his debut as Governor Pat Quinn’s 2014 running mate on Tuesday.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports Governor Quinn was vetting high profile finalists until midweek and did not make his final decision until late Thursday night.

He called the other finalists Friday morning and then Vallas himself, a bold if risky choice because of his independence, to tell him the position was his.

Quinn’s choice for lieutenant governor was surprising, even to the other finalists.

CBS 2 has learned State Senator Kwame Raoul was among the finalist, along with Vallas, State Senator Heather Steans, and City Treasurer Stephanie Neely.

Quinn tried to call Neely, but never connected.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s awkward, I’d just say it’s life. I’m 50 years old; I go through ups and downs. It’s ok,” said Neely.

In fact, CBS 2 was told it wasn’t ok. Privately, Neely, who was at a news conference when the word leaked out, was stunned that Quinn hadn’t left a message and considered it disrespectful.

Quinn did reach Raoul, who was almost relieved he wasn’t asked because they hadn’t agreed to his request for a clearly defined role.

“It would have been an awkward situation to say ‘Well no, I can’t accept unless we had a conversation that would take more than just a few minutes,’” said Raoul.

The Governor told Staines he’d been struggling with the decision, though he’d known Vallas for 30 years. Staines described Vallas as an “outside-the-box” thinker.

CBS 2 has learned Quinn had recruited Vallas over meals at restaurants in Chicago. The courtship was known only to a few key advisers.

Vallas was chosen because of his fiscal skills and experience both in city and state government.

The irony is that Kwame Raoul would have been with Vallas in Haiti last week had it not been for the veto session. The two have gotten to know each other helping with reconstruction following the earthquake there.

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