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Quinn concedes, endorses Kearns

Five weeks after the polls closed, former state Treasurer Patrick Quinn finally conceded the Democratic lieutenant governor’s race Tuesday, declaring he could not afford the cost of a recount – and the party could not afford the confusion.

“There is no question that the recount would take from three to four months to resolve,” Quinn said. “And I think it would be a distraction, and it would take attention away from the important issues of the campaign.”

Quinn’s surprise decision is a boon to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Glenn Poshard and running mate Mary Lou Kearns, who had been forced to watch Quinn’s maneuverings play out like an unwelcome sideshow to the campaign.

Kearns, who is Kane County coroner, won the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor March 17 by a mere 1,468 votes – the closest statewide election in 46 years. Quinn endorsed her Tuesday.

“I’m very ecstatic and very grateful that Pat’s not going forward with any expensive legal proceedings and is not going to pursue this anymore,” Kearns said. “The important thing is we Democrats are moving forward with the campaign and presenting a unified party.”

Quinn conceded two hours before his 4:30 p.m. deadline to file a petition for a recount with the state Supreme Court.

Quinn insisted he had already uncovered enough votes to beat Kearns.

He said his scrutiny of selected precincts in Chicago, Kane County and three Downstate counties over the past week turned up 2,308 votes that would go for him and another 2,430 absentee ballots that needed further investigation.

But Quinn, 49, a Northwest Side lawyer, said he could not line up contributors to help him defray the costs of the recount. He would have had to pay $50 for each precinct he wanted scrutinized, up to a maximum cost of $75,000, plus a $10,000 filing fee. Legal fees would be extra.

“The amount of money for the recount – $85,000 to $100,000 – would have been more than we spent in the whole campaign,” he said.

Quinn’s decision surprised some longtime supporters.

Estelle Cukay, 80, a Berwyn retiree who has done volunteer work for Quinn for 25 years, said, “I really thought he would challenge it. I’m disappointed. And surprised, because we worked so hard – and he worked so hard, and he is a good man.”

Quinn, who has lost three elections now in four years, left the door open to seek office again.

“I’m not signing my politicial epitaph here,” Quinn said. “As long as Pat Quinn’s around and the water flows and the grass grows, I’ll be organizing for some kind of public interest cause.”