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Special election foiled by House Dems

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2008 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Heartening news

Secretary of State Jesse White said Monday he would block any appointment Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s makes for the state’s empty U.S. Senate seat, should the governor make one.

“I will not accept that nomination,” White said. “I would block it.”

Blagojevich has been urged by a chorus of Illinois officials not to make the pick after being arrested on federal corruption charges last week.

White would have to sign off on Blagojevich’s choice, but it has been unclear whether his role was simply a matter of handling paperwork.

* The headline on today’s Drudge Report was: “Illinois Democrats Let Blago Retain Senate Appointment.” Oof. Here’s the story

Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives postponed stripping Governor Rod Blagojevich’s power to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama that prosecutors say Blagojevich tried to sell. […]

Republicans said Democrats, who hold a 67-51 majority in the chamber, seek to avoid a loss of the seat to the GOP in a special election.

“Shame on you,” Representative William Black, deputy leader of Republicans in the House, shouted during a debate in the state capitol building in Springfield. “We had an opportunity to limit the power of this governor and you refused.” […]

“It’s extremely disappointing that Democratic leaders in Illinois are ignoring bipartisan calls for a special election,” Robert Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement distributed on PRNewswire.

* More GOP react

“Tonight the world has seen up close the hypocrisy of Illinois politics,” decried Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna. “The people of Illinois deserve better.”

* There are fewer and fewer “bipartisan calls for a special election,” particularly from Illinois’ county clerks, who would have to run (and pay for) the thing…

Election officials statewide say they don’t have the money to pay for a special election that could be held to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. […]

Officials have floated statewide special election cost projections between $30 million and $50 million - running individual counties anywhere from tens of thousand of dollars to as much as $8 million in Cook County’s Chicago suburbs. Chicago’s expenses could hit $16 million.

Clerks say they don’t have that money in their budgets. “We just hope the Legislature considers the additional expenses,” said Stacey Kern, director of the Sangamon County election office in Springfield. “It’s going to cost us. Hopefully they’ll do right the thing and find some funds for us.”

County Clerk Joe Aiello estimated a special election would cost Sangamon $300,000 - a huge burden for a county that recently offered employees voluntary severance packages and is looking to cut more expenses. Aiello said the county could tap its general fund, but that likely would mean cuts elsewhere.

* Back to the Repubs

Republicans say a special election would erase the stain that Blagojevich has left on the Senate appointment in the wake of the allegations against him.

“I think the people’s trust in the state of Illinois has been shattered,” said state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington. […]

“The best disinfectant in a democracy is the people,” said state Rep. Roger Eddy, R-Hutsonville.

Except “the people” elected George Ryan over and over again (lt. governor, secretary of state and governor) and elected Rod Blagojevich governor twice. But I see the point.

* A national pundit sucks his thumb

Quinn might logically choose Lisa Madigan, the state’s popular attorney general. But there’s a problem there, too. Knowledgeable Illinois Democrats say that Madigan would vastly prefer to be governor, a job her dad, state House Speaker Michael Madigan, would also like her to get. Yet if Quinn were to take over from Blagojevich, he might well build up his own popularity and thus block Lisa Madigan’s ascension to the governorship.

* And Obama is staying mum

Obama has not said whether he supports a special election or an appointment from Quinn should Blagojevich step down or be removed from office. Obama has only called on lawmakers to do what is “appropriate,” without explanation.



  1. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    Would Andy McKenna and the GOP be willing to foot the bill for a special election, esp. since we’re in the bottom of a deep recession?

    Other states make the political parties pay for primaries.

    Since we do have an existing election in April (for municipal office), but that’s by and large non-partisan, a special election could coincide with that.

    But, any primary would be very costly since most municipalities don’t have one for local office.

  2. - Boscobud - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    Thank you William Black.

  3. - 2010 - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:25 am:

    Obama needs to focus on the federal level with regards to the economy and war in Iraq and Afghanistan (note: French under attack this morning for their troop presence). He does not need to be involved with local politics.

  4. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:25 am:

    Would Andy McKenna and the GOP be willing to foot the bill for a special election, esp. since we’re in the bottom of a deep recession?

    I’d love to see MJM ask the question. Democrats created this mess, will the GOP pay to bail Illinois out of it please?

  5. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    I am opposed to a special election. Under current constitutional law, the authority to appoint a person to fill a U.S. Senate seat rests with the Governor. Unless there is a constitutional amendment that passes changing that mandate (which I would probably vote for depending on the alternative given), stick with what we have and work through. If it is at all compelling that Illinois needs to fill Obama’s vacant seat, then the work of the GA in its impeachment proceedings becomes all the more important to be done in a timely manner.

  6. - The Doc - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    The state GOP, by virtue of the full court press for a special election, appears to be portraying much confidence that one of theirs will be victorious in a special election. I think they’re relying too heavily on the perceived anti-Blago sentiment trickling down to other statewide Dems.

  7. - Frank Sobotka - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:27 am:

    To be fair to Drudge (who does sometimes use sensationalized headlines) that is the headline ot the linked story. I can’t remember if Bloomberg news or Breitbart is the one that is effectively an offshoot of Drudge Report, but that’s Bloomberg’s stupid, misleading headline.

  8. - wndycty - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:27 am:

    As a Democrat I’m not afraid to lose the Senate seat to the GOP in a special election, it ain’t going to happen. In Illinois the Democrats are the Harlem Globetrotters to the GOP’s Washington Generals.

    I have 2 reasons not be a fan of the special election: 1) the cost; and 2) the Democrat on Democrat violence that we specialize in here in Illinois.

  9. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:29 am:

    The GOP is right about this. Whoever is appointed will be tainted regardless of who it is.

    A special election was the only way to go under these unusual circumstances.

    As to costs, well that is just a lame partisan excuse to keep the seat Democratic and corrupt.

  10. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:29 am:

    Your right 2010 but life BB (Before Blagojevich) will never be the same. Expect more coverage now on Richardson’s grand jury investigation, and Holder has his own Blagojevich issues with his $300k contract to clear Rosemont for a Casino.

    Illinois has a huge hook into Obama and it cripples him before he even gets started with some very tough implications for the whole country.

  11. - Ahem - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:31 am:

    I agree that Illinois politicians should take care of their business and not run to Daddy-O who needs to get his transition in place.

  12. - Gabriel - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:32 am:

    This would be an expensive race for the Republicans right now. You’d pay today and pay again in two years to defend the seat.

    The GOP stands to gain without a special election. Let the Democrats pick the process. Continue to press the legislature to support a special election, but don’t shed any tears if they adopt another method of selection.

    Allow the Democrats to find the way to dig Illinois out of this hole. In two years, what will the prospects of an authentic challenge look like?

  13. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:32 am:


    If this is a general election, all parties could help pay for it.

    The SE idea was originally floated by key Democrats such as Durbin and it seemed like a great, ethical move at the time. The Republicans joined the chorus as they saw a golden opportunity about to fall in their laps (which doesn’t often happen lately around IL). Then, suddenly, most of the state’s key Democrats are doing an abrupt about-face. Either this was a well intentioned thought that got worse upon reflection, or it was a trial balloon that was meant to be shot down from the get-go. Which was it? In any case, leaving the appointment power to Quinn makes this selection a little bit of a wild card, although he will not have anywhere near the suspicion level of a Blago appointment.

  14. - grand old partisan - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:33 am:

    A special election is the GOP’s best chance to win the seat, because it allows some of our strongest potential candidates – i.e., ones who have actually WON elections – to run without risking their day jobs, so to speak.
    But I certainly hope that the party leadership (state and national) has their *bleep* together and either found a way to unite the relevant players behind a single candidate (Kirk, perhaps?), or made gotten assurances from anyone who is interested in running that they won’t engage in an Oberweis-style scorched earth campaign. Mark my words, if the special primary turns into another conservative/moderate fight to the death, then not only will we blow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but the 2010 race will be a loss before it even begins.

  15. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:34 am:

    one idea floated was for the state central committees of each party to choose the nominee for the special election. Or how about a party caucus? Wouldn’t these methods defray the costs of a special election?

  16. - 2for2 - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:35 am:

    This is a huge mistake on behalf of the Dems. It will be viewed as it should be…a desperate attempt to hold power. The public is furious right now. In 2010, Rod will be gone so the voters will then direct their anger toward the Dems. All of them. This was an opportunity to distance themselves from Rod and they blew it. An opportunity to stand up for the citizenry and they turned their backs. Dumb.

  17. - MOON - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:37 am:

    The Dems did not create this mess by themselves!

    Blago won re-election so its safe to say the voters are also partially responsible.

    The Rep. can also shoulder part of the blame. They are the ones who slated such a weak candidate to run against Blago. Furthermore the House Rep. went along with Blago when they knew better.

    However, the primary blame belongs to Blago. It is time for all to recognize and accept reality!

  18. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:40 am:

    The Dems really stepped in it last week with that rushed call for a special election. Harry Reid must have pounded lumps on Durbin’s head for not realizing they could just refuse to seat a Blago appointment.

    Now the GOP gets to be the party that “let’s the people decide.” But you know they just see a shot at picking off a safe Dem seat.

  19. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:41 am:

    Moon - JBT, although she is perceived by you to be “weak”, was the only statewide GOP office-holder at the time. That speaks to the weakness of the state party in general more than her as a candidate.

  20. - Esteban - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:42 am:

    Has anyone asked Jesse White the most important question regarding the Senate vacancy: On
    what specific grounds-and one what specific
    legal authority-would you block an appointment
    made by the governor? I seriously doubt that he has the authority to do this.

  21. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:44 am:

    – lame partisan excuse to keep the seat Democratic and corrupt.–

    Obama was corrupt? Missed that bit. There certainly is lame partisanship at work here, though.

  22. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:47 am:

    I’d like to know how that works myself Esteban? Can the SecState just say I don’t like the pick?

  23. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:47 am:

    Or I just don’t like the guy doing the picking?

    How’s this work?

  24. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:52 am:

    The standing Rules of the U.S. Senate require a gubernatorial appointment to a vacancy to have paperwork signed by the governor and certified by the state’s Secretary of State. No certification, no appointment.

  25. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:53 am:

    Six Degrees,

    Let me rephrase since a key word’s missing…

    “Would the GOP be willing to help foot the bill…”

    I agree, the onus shouldn’t just be on the GOP to pay for it if the parties are asked to cover the costs. My point was more that once real money starts getting involved in terms of who subsidizes it, then the GOP’s partisan circus might quiet down.

    I agree with Rich - these are serious times and the kindergarten baloney on display for all the world to see last night was ridiculous.

    Bill Baar tries to make a partisan point by saying, “Democrats created this mess, will the GOP pay to bail Illinois out of it please?”

    I seem to recall House Minority Leader Tom Cross agreeing with Blagojevich quite a bit in the last year, esp. on the capital projects bill. Before that, Blago funded the House GOP’s “legislator initiatives” funded while the House Dems saw theirs zeroed out with the guv’s line item vetoes.

    Was Cross getting his back scratched by the guv, or was he scratching Blagojevich’s back?

    …It’s pretty easy to play this game of six degrees of who made what mess, Bill.

  26. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 11:06 am:

    To add to Wordslinger’s fact-checking that any appointment must also be certified by the state’s SecState … a majority of the Senators have publicly declared they will not seat any person appointed by one Rod Blagojevich. Period.

    The US Constitution gives the Senate the right to reject anyone from its ranks — no explanation necessary.

  27. - Gabriel - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 11:08 am:

    ==As to costs, well that is just a lame partisan excuse to keep the seat Democratic and corrupt.==

    That’s an awfully strong way to say the Democrats probably prefer to not run a primary with the cloud hovering over their “party unity” ticket in 2006 even if that primary is chosen without the participation of voters.

  28. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 11:15 am:

    ==As to costs, well that is just a lame partisan excuse to keep the seat Democratic and corrupt.==

    Please quote me completely - “As to costs…that is a lame partisan excuse…”

    Costs should not be a factor considering the situation we are in. To hide behind it isn’t the right thing to do at this time.

  29. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 11:16 am:

    ==…and corrupt==

    Nah, I’m not saying that Obama was corrupt, I am saying that the next senator needs to be elected to remove the stain on the seat created by Rod Blagojevich.


  30. - GOP'er - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 11:17 am:

    Well Andy McKenna would know hypocrisy when he sees it. Takes one to know one.

    McKenna and his fellow clowns won’t even allow real elections in their own organization, the State Republican Party! McKenna has no problem keeping his own Republican voters from having a vote in their own party!

    These goofs are SO unprepared to take on a Mike Madigan.

    And if McKenna’s and Cross’ puppetmasters hadn’t been so eager to drive U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald out of politics in the first place, this whole replacement issue might well be moot right now. Obama likely never would have become Senator, much less President.

    Once again, the Illinois GOP snatches a defeat from the jaws of victory. Misfits.

  31. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 11:20 am:

    VMan, read what you wrote. “..keep the seat Democratic and corrupt.”

    The previous occupant of the seat was Obama. Your statement implies he was corrupt.

  32. - Bubs - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 11:21 am:

    Big mistake by the Dems to allow people to call for the SE in the romance of the moment when the story broke. If Madigan did not want such a move, he made a big mistake by not coming out early against it and muffling things down.

    Now they’ve made a second big mistake by killing the idea after it has gained traction and public support.

    In all, bungled. But this is Illinois, so Madigan is not losing sleep over it.

  33. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 12:06 pm:


    Politics, in a Democracy, is about partisanship.

    Cross worked for Topinka, the GOP lost, Cross and Topinka worked as a minority should. When they found agreement, they worked with the victors.

    MJM worked for Blagojevich, they won, and in victory, Democrats couldn’t figure out how to work within their own party… among themselves.

    There is a difference.

    Expect Obama to find himself in a simlar bind with the National Democrats. There are some reasons for it and they’re built into the nature of what each party has become.

  34. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 12:24 pm:

    ==Your statement implies he was corrupt.==

    Yeah, to you.

    If you find your toes being stepped on and you are the only person complaining, perhaps you should consider wearing shoes like the rest of us.

  35. - Keep 'em honest - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 12:26 pm:

    Democratic primary voters elect their state central committee. By contrast, Cross and the GOP don’t let the peepul elect the Republican state central committee whose members are appointed. So Republicans don’t practice what they preach.

  36. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 9:03 pm:

    Dynsdale? Monty Python fan?

  37. - Lakeview conservative - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:43 pm:

    Have you guys lost all sense of the larger picture?

    Yes running an election costs money - so does having polticians in office who steal from the public every chance they get from putting ghosts on the payroll to giving contracts as paybacks for political donations. All of a sudden the Dems are pinching pennies and turning into fiscal conservatives - the next thing you know they will be holding prayer breakfasts

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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