Battle Royale for Obama’s Illinois Senate Seat
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is one of the leading contenders.
November 13, 2008 - 12:00 am
The maneuvering began before Barack Obama was even elected president. A genuine political scramble was on as Illinois politicians great and not so great let it be known subtly and not so subtly that they wouldn’t say no if Governor Rod Blagojevich tapped them to fill out the unexpired portion of Obama’s term in the United States Senate.
There are so many issues and personalities involved in the decision-making process that the selection promises to be controversial no matter who is chosen. It would take the wisdom of Solomon to sort out the confusing, conflicting currents of race, faction, and family in order to arrive at a consensus so that the Democratic Party in Illinois doesn’t fly apart at the seams.
And smack dab in the middle of the maelstrom is the current governor, Milorad “Rod” R. Blagojevich, proud Serbian-American. He is also a man on the cusp of becoming the fourth Illinois governor out of the last seven to be indicted for corruption. He was mentioned prominently and not in the best light, during the trial of Obama friend, financier, and patron Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who was convicted of fraud in connection with a statehouse “pay to play” scheme. Federal prosecutors have leaked the information that they think they have enough on the governor for an indictment, largely — it is believed — because Rezko is singing to the feds in exchange for a lighter sentence. There is also a move among members of his own party in the Illinois House to impeach him. The governor is not only unpopular in the state, he is spectacularly and universally hated. A recent poll conducted by the Chicago Tribune found that just 13% of residents approved of the job he was doing.
In short, Governor Blagojevich might want to hurry the process of selecting Obama’s replacement along since he may not be sleeping in the governor’s mansion much longer. He claims he wants to settle the matter before Christmas. If so, he will probably be able to make that deadline — barely — before either resigning in disgrace or being kicked out by members of his own party.