Rahm Emanuel will be Obama's chief of staff

SECOND UPDATE: He took the job. Special election on the way to fill Emanuel’s D+18 House seat. Outgoing DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen may seek to replace Emanuel as Democratic caucus chair in the house.

UPDATE: Apparently this report has not been confirmed, so it’s possible Emanuel will turn down the offer from Obama.

If you were hoping Barack Obama would “turn the page” on the Bill Clinton years, you’ll be disappointed to learn that he has hired Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a veteran of the Clinton administration, to be his chief of staff.

I think this is a master stroke by Obama. He gets a senior staff member with recent White House experience, good ties to the Clintons and tremendous contacts in the House Democratic caucus.

Also, if Obama has a particular person in mind to replace him as Illinois’ junior senator, giving Emanuel a different job removes a rival candidate that Governor Rod Blagojevich might appoint.

I’ve been worried that Obama would not drive a hard bargain with Congress, but Emanuel is a tough advocate.

A side benefit from my perspective is that this gets Emanuel out of the House of Representatives. He was rising fast and could have become speaker someday. Nancy Pelosi is not particularly effective in my opinion, but our second tier of leaders (e.g. Steny Hoyer) are terrible. I want to build a progressive bench in Congress.

So, now that Emanuel is out of the picture, who will replace Obama in the U.S. Senate?

American007’s speculation is here, and other links on the same subject are here.

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The Race to Replace Obama

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.

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