Lt. Gov. Wood enters Illinois gubernatorial race

Monday, September 10, 2001

CHICAGO -- Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood announced her candidacy for governor Sunday, distancing herself from the current Republican administration, supporting improvements at O'Hare International Airport, and promising to change the way politics is practiced.

"I'm going to turn the political landscape upside down," Wood said, standing before about 1,500 supporters at a downtown Chicago hotel. "I promise you, this will be a different kind of campaign."

Wood said she would not solicit or accept campaign contributions from state workers, an indication she wants to inoculate herself from practices that led to the license-for-bribes scandal that is casting a shadow over Gov. George Ryan.

Ryan has been dogged by a federal investigation that has resulted in charges against 41 people for accepting or paying bribes in exchange for driver's licenses, many of them for commercial truck drivers. Prosecutors allege that $170,000 in payoffs ended up in Ryan's campaign coffers.

Ryan has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the bribes.

Wood called the scandal "a cloud" over state government and said she would not be seeking Ryan's endorsement, even though he has indicated he leans towards her for the party's nomination.

"I will be seeking endorsements from the people of the state Illinois," she said in a news conference after the address.

Criticized insiders

In her address, Wood also criticized the insiders and special interests groups she says have a heavy hand in government. She said her campaign would reach out to more women, minorities, and others who she said have remained outside the tent looking in.

"With this campaign comes a new era in Illinois politics where we tell insiders to move over and let fresh, new leadership step up to the plate," Wood said.

Wood said she could support some elements of a proposal by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to fix O'Hare, including the proposed reconfiguring of runways. But says she hasn't made up her mind on an additional runway, and pledged to support a third airport at Peotone.

"I favor fixing O'Hare's runways right now," Wood said. Still, the lieutenant governor later added she was reluctant to do anything that would jeopardize businesses and homes in the suburbs around the airport.

Wood was a state representative for one term before Gov. George Ryan asked her to be his running mate in 1998.

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