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Ex-Lt. Gov. Wood won't run for Senate in '04

December 4, 2003

BY SCOTT FORNEK Political Reporter

She is confident her moderate views and experience in government would have carried her to victory in both the Republican primary and general election, but former Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood said Wednesday that she will not run for the U.S. Senate next year.

Her decision leaves retired Air Force Major Gen. John Borling the only abortion-rights supporter on the GOP side of the race. Wood praised Borling's stance on that issue and his expertise on national security concerns but said she is undecided whether she will throw her support to him or any of the other remaining candidates.

Still, Wood, 49, said she is concerned that most of the Republicans hoping to succeed GOP Sen. Peter Fitzgerald are working too hard to stress their conservative credentials -- a position that often works in Republican primaries but is not always successful in statewide general elections here.

"Illinois is a moderate state and tends to vote moderate," Wood said.

Also a supporter of gun control and gay rights, Wood has been the potential GOP wild card as the deadline to enter the race loomed closer. The unsuccessful 2002 gubernatorial candidate has done no campaigning for the Senate seat, but she said she has spent the last few months wrestling with her decision. The weeklong filing period begins on Monday.

"There's always lots of opportunities down the road, but I honestly think that right now is just not the time for Corinne Wood to throw her hat into the ring," Wood said. "It's been an incredible several years serving as Illinois' first female lieutenant governor, serving as a state legislator, battling cancer, raising teenagers.

"And I really need to spend a little bit of time focusing on my family."

One Democratic strategist called Wood the last formidable GOP candidate.

"She was really their last prayer," said Stacey Zolt, spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "They are now stuck with a back bench of third-tier candidates."

A spokeswoman for GOP candidate Jack Ryan, an investment banker turned high school teacher, dismissed Zolt's remarks, saying Ryan's history working in the inner city and emphasis on urban issues will attract traditionally Democratic voters.

"Jack Ryan is the candidate that the Democrats most fear because he is the one who can cross over racial, ethnic, color, age -- whatever borders there are," said Ryan spokeswoman Lissa Druss Christman.

Other announced or potential GOP candidates include businessman Andy McKenna Jr., dairy and investment magnate Jim Oberweis, physician-turned businessman Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, former state Rep. Jonathan Wright and former state Sen. Patrick J. O'Malley.


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