Cohen, expected to announce run for governor, is a no-show

Adrian G. Uribarri

April 15, 2010 @ 7:20 AM

Is it hype?

Earlier this week, former Republican comptroller candidate William J. Kelly told me that Scott Lee Cohen would be the featured speaker at the first meeting of the new Reform Chicago Now group.

Cohen, who dropped his nomination for lieutenant governor, was widely speculated to announce an independent run for governor at the meeting, and Kelly wasn't denying the rumors.

But Cohen never showed up.

"Scott confirmed with me personally on five or six separate occasions, right up to this evening, that he was, in fact, coming," Kelly told me yesterday. "I'm disappointed."

Cohen did not return a voice message left on his mobile phone, but Kelly said he spoke with his assistant.

"His assistant said that it was because the restaurant told — has been telling people that the event was canceled," Kelly said. "The restaurant told me that they were afraid to have this event because they were afraid that there would be some retaliation from the city."

Cohen has ruffled feathers around the state, but fear of retaliation?

"I can say with 100 percent certainty that the Erie Cafe would not cancel any event for fear of repercussions from any official," restaurant manager John Brom told me.

Brom said he wasn't even aware that Cohen was the featured speaker. He said reservations at the restaurant, in the River North neighborhood just east of the Chicago River, are made by "whoever picks up the phone."

So I'm not sure who told Kelly that the restaurant feared retaliation.

But if Cohen is indeed running for governor, this was not an auspicious start.

"I think that we might try to get a few meetings that actually have speakers under our belt," Kelly told me, "before we roll the dice on inviting Scott again."

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