Well, with the election of President Barack Obama (I will never get tired of typing that) looking more and more like a certainty, it's time once again to get elbow deep in the muck that is Illinois politics. In this diary, I'll be taking an updated look at possible appointees to Obama's Senate seat.
A quick reminder of the rules at play here. The Constitution states that a congress person must be at least 30, a citizen for at least 9 years prior to entering the Senate, and must live in the state they represent. Beyond that, there are no rules. Governor Rod Blagojevich can appoint whoever he likes to the position, without having to have that pick voted on or vetted by anyone.
So here are my odds on who the pick will be:
2-1: Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL)
Often, when a governor must appoint someone to fill a vacant seat, their first reaction is to fill the seat with someone as close to the genuine article as possible. In that regard, Jackson Jr. is the man for the job. He's an almost universally well-liked Representative from the south side of Chicago. It helps that he's one of Obama's closest allies, having put out fires started by his father several times. Plus, appointing Jackson will help keep the “upstate senator/downstate senator” balance with the downstater Dick Durbin.
In addition, Gov. Blago has to be feeling the pressure to appoint an African-American to the seat, lest the 111th Congress have no African-American senators.
Working against Jackson is the fact that he is disliked by the Daley machine, a powerful contingent that has kept him out of some House committees in the past. The other factor working against Jackson is his father, who has been a thorn in seemingly everybody's sides this election cycle.
5-1: Lisa Madigan (IL Atty. General)
Unlike others, I'm giving much higher odds to Lisa Madigan. Madigan, a rising star in Illinois politics, matches the profile of a serious candidate for the Senate. She's young, liberal, ambitious, well-connected, and wildly popular. Unlike Jackson, she's won a statewide race. Plus, by appointing her, Gov. Blago gets one of his fiercest critics out of his hair, and wins favor with another: Lisa's father, and Speaker of the Illinois House, Mike Madigan. A potential 2 for the price of 1, if you will.
However, Gov. Blago's many political enemies are like the mythical Hydra: cut down one, and two grow in their place. Even if Madigan weren't around to challenge him in 2010, other candidates are ready to step in. Also, the Senate currently has 13 women, but only one African-American.
5-1: Tammy Duckworth (IL Dir. of Veterans Affairs)
One candidate that all the political forces in Illinois can agree on is Tammy Duckworth. She is reportedly well-liked by Durbin, Obama, Rahm Emmanuel and even Gov. Blago. If appointed, she would be first Asian-American women in the Senate (one of three Asian senators in the next congress if appointed), and to my knowledge, the first Iraqi War veteran in the Senate.
The only thing holding her back is the fact that she has never been elected to a public office before. While she came close in 2006, and has served as the appointed Director of Veteran's Affairs, nearly all the other people being considered for the position have at least one publicly elected position in their resume. In addition, Obama may be “saving” Duckworth for a cabinet position, specifically the Secretary of Veteran's Affairs.Continue Reading...