I thought as a nice break from all the primary squabbling, I thought I might spark some discussion about something else: the race to replace Obama. There was a very neat discussion about this on the National Journal's wonderful HotlineTV v-blog the other day, and so I thought I'd share it with everyone.
The problem: Should Obama win the presidency, he'll need someone to fill his seat in the senate. According to this article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it's entirely up to Illinois Governor Blagojevich who he appoints to pick. He doesn't have to specifically pick a Democrat (although he would be certifiably insane not to), or have his pick vetted by anyone. Like much of Illinois politics, anything goes.
The Serious Seven Contenders:
1. Gov. Rod Blagojevich
That's right. He can appoint himself. And, there is reason to suggest he just might. The only catch is, he is intensly unpopular…especially in downstate Illinois. Were he to appoint himself, it puts the seat in serious jeopardy in 2010.
2. Ill. Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan
At 41, Ms. Madigan reigns supreme as the post-Obama rising star of the Illinois Democrat Party. Narrowly elected in 2002 with just a hair over 50% of the vote, her stances against some of Gov. Unpronounceable's policies have made her incredibly popular–as well as the Gov's chief rival. (For proof, see her 2006 reelection with 72% of the vote.) As rumor has it, the Gov. might appoint her for no other reason than to get her out of his well-coifed hair.
3. Sen. Rahm Emanuel
A man with serious skills, Sen. Emanuel is nothing if not politically savvy. He's a powerhouse in the House and connected out the wazoo; with those connections, could become a more influential senator than even his predecessor. And if the decision comes down to who's worked the hardest, it's a lock for Sen. Emanuel.
4. Sen. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Young. Bright. Politically savvy. African-American. Generally Obama-esque. As the Post-Dispatch article notes–there will be considerable pressure on the Gov. to appoint someone like Obama. Jackson fits the bill in every category. He's also considered much more statesmanlike than his father and is very well liked in his district. Also, he's been pounding the pavement hard for Obama–who might call in a favor for him.
5. Ill. State Comptroller Dan Hynes
Elected to statewide office in 1998, Hynes has been making waves for his stand against Gov. Blagojevich's disastrous financial policies. While as vanilla as you can get, he is generally regarded as honest, squeaky clean, and competent–all hard to find in Illinois politics. Again, his appointment would be only out of political convenience for the Gov, but if it gets a good person in office, so be it.
6. Ill. Veterans' Affairs Dept. Dir. Tammy Duckworth
Duckworth, who nearly won a House seat in 2006, is considered somewhat of a sleeper candidate for the position. The upshot: She would bring needed diversity to the Senate and stand up for veterans like no other. The downside: She's never been elected to public office and the Senate learning curve is steep.
7. Fmr. Ill Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun
Now here's an outside pick. Could this be the opportunity for the first and only African-American female Senator to stage a comeback? Her resume is perfect–she's already held the job once before. However, she's also already lost once before. Who's to say she won't lose again?