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Vallas Ready And Willing To Be Quinn’s ‘Second Banana’

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Gov. Pat Quinn (right) officially introduces Paul Vallas (left) as his running mate in the 2014 election. (Credit: CBS)

Gov. Pat Quinn (right) officially introduces Paul Vallas (left) as his running mate in the 2014 election. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas made it clear Tuesday he has no problem being Gov. Pat Quinn’s “second banana” as his running mate in next year’s election, saying he’s focused on serving the state.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports Vallas, who was announced as Quinn’s running mate on Friday, appeared with Quinn at a downtown hotel Tuesday for his official introduction on the Democratic ticket for governor and lieutenant governor.

Though Vallas once ran for governor in 2002 – and lost the Democratic primary to Rod Blagojevich – and the lieutenant governor’s job has so little power and responsibility one former lieutenant governor resigned out of boredom, Vallas said he is prepared to serve as Quinn’s No. 2.

“Second fiddle, third fiddle, second banana, fifth banana, green banana; it doesn’t make any difference to me,” Vallas said.

Vallas said his focus is helping Quinn address knotty financial problems, like state pension reform.

“I have no problem playing second fiddle, or whatever instrument in the orchestra Pat wants me to play,” he said.

He also said he’s not concerned about how many votes he might help Quinn get in the election, only with helping him run the state.

Quinn’s selection of Vallas surprised many political observers, who expected Quinn to pick a minority or a woman as his running mate, but the governor defended the diversity of his existing cabinet, including his deputy governor, Cristal Thomas, an African-American woman.

“Our team I think is very diverse. The cabinet members I’ve named, the deputy governor,” Quinn said. “I work with everybody across Illinois, whatever their background, whatever their region.”

Vallas will take Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon’s place on the ticket with Quinn, as she is running for state comptroller.

A new state law requires candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run as a team starting with the primary, rather than the winners of separate primaries for the two posts teaming up for the general election.

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