* Part of my Sun-Times column today discusses a bill that will be taken up by the General Assembly next week to strip Gov. Blagojevich of his power to appoint the next US Senator and instead create a special election…
Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin supports this idea. But the Democratic campaign consultants I’ve talked to are worried to death that a Republican such as moderate U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk could win a special election because Blagojevich’s arrest and subsequent prosecution could easily ruin a Democratic candidate.
* RollCall reported late this morning that Rep. Kirk is interested in the race…
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said Wednesday he is considering running for Senate if there is a special election to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s seat.
* Obama says he’s for the special election…
[Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs] said Obama believes the Illinois legislature should consider a special election to fill the seat.
Gibbs says the hope is to put a process in place to select a new senator who’ll have the trust and confidence of the people of Illinois.
* Hotline On Call provides a cost guesstimate…
A special election to fill Pres.-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat could cost the state of Illinois between $45 million and $50 million, a state Board of Elections official told On Call this afternooon.
Ken Menzel, an elections specialist with the board, called the figure a “gross guestimate” based on the cost per precinct of running a special election earlier this year to fill the 14th District seat vacated by retiring Rep. J. Dennis Hastert.
“We don’t do specials for statewide offices,” Menzel said. “This is one of the reasons we appoint to them. It’s expensive to do these things.”
Menzel said the counties will largely be tasked with covering the costs.
“If it isn’t there, I don’t know where it would come from,” he said.
After consulting with State Board of Elections Executive Dir. Dan White, Menzel said he based his Senate contest estimate on the cost per precinct — $10,000 — to conduct the race to replace Hastert. He said that at approximately half that rate per precinct, with 11,600 precincts statewide, it could run as much as $50 million to hold a special Senate election.
* Back to my column…
The first problem which springs to mind is that Blagojevich, who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly trying to auction Obama’s vacant seat to the highest bidder, would have to sign the [special election] bill into law.
Our jailbird governor could sit on the bill for 60 days before he does anything. And he might just veto it, which would only prolong the process.
* Plus, if he waits to veto the bill after the General Assembly adjourns sine die on January 14th, the bill dies.
And then there’s this…
Dawn Clark Netsch, a former state comptroller and an author of the state’s 1970 Constitution, said someone might challenge whether a new law would apply to a vacancy already pending. […]
Even if it becomes law, the matter could end up in the Illinois Supreme Court, which would prolong the drama.
Better to just impeach him now.
* By the way, there is little to no danger that Blagojevich could go ahead and make an appointment anyway. Well, he might, but it wouldn’t stick…
Secretary of State Jesse White could refuse to certify the choice.
The U.S. Senate could refuse to seat Blagojevich’s appointee.
* More on that topic…
The office of Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, is circulating a letter Wednesday to the Senate Democratic Caucus for signatures that recommends indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich resign and under no circumstances make an appointment to fill Illinois’ vacant Senate seat.
The letter contains a threat to the governor, saying that the Senate is poised to use its power to refuse to seat any appointment Blagojevich makes.
* Attorney General Madigan makes a good political point…
“Nobody in their right mind would accept an appointment from this governor,” she said. “It is so tainted at this point…”
* But this baffles me…
Madigan said ne of the wilder speculations is that of the governor thinking of appointing himself.
“If he did that, we would be able to step in legally and say there is an inherent conflict of interest. He can’t appoint himself to this seat,” Madigan said.
Huh?. There’s no law against that, is there? He’d just get rejected by SoS White and the US Senate.