The Democratic nominee for Illinois' lieutenant governor dropped out of the race Sunday night, less than a week after winning the nomination, amid a political uproar about his past.
In announcing his decision at a Chicago bar packed with people watching the Super Bowl, Scott Lee Cohen said the Democrats were not certain they could win with him on the ticket.
Since Cohen won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, it has become widely known that he was accused of abusing his ex-wife and holding a knife to the throat of an ex-girlfriend — a woman who was herself charged with prostitution. He also admits using steroids in the past.
"For the good of the people of the state of Illinois and the Democratic Party, I will resign," a clearly emotional Cohen said in a rambling remarks made as the Super Bowl halftime entertainment blared in the background.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who would have been paired with Cohen on the November ticket, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Sen. Dick Durbin all had urged Cohen to leave the race. Quinn has said he knew nothing about the allegations against Cohen until after Tuesday's primary.
Surrounded by his two sons, his fiancee and his fiancee's sons, Cohen apologized to his family, his supporters and anyone he may have let down.
"The last thing I wanted to do was put the people of Illinois in jeopardy," Cohen said.
Until his nomination, Cohen was a political unknown. Democratic leaders had not considered him a threat to win and didn't highlight his past during the campaign.
The pawnbroker and owner of a cleaning supplies company ran against several veteran politicians, spending $2 million — mostly his own money — on his campaign, more than twice as much as all his opponents combined. He gained strong name recognition with a flurry of advertising featuring people who said they got jobs at employment fairs he held.
Associated Press Writer Deanna Bellandi contributed to this report.
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