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Enough, already

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* It’s really time that the media stops dragging President-Elect Barack Obama into every detail of Illinois politics. From the Tribune…

But we’d like to hear Obama say one thing loud and clear right now: The best thing for Illinois citizens would be to hold a special election to fill his Senate seat.

There’s no legal issue that stops Obama from expressing his views on this. It’s a critical decision for Illinois. Do we hold an election or leave the appointment of a senator in the hands of the governor?

Earlier in the week, when a Tribune reporter asked Obama about this, Obama said he would leave the decision to the legislature.

But Democratic leaders of the legislature are stalling. Obama can have some influence. He can push them publicly to set up an election. It should be held at the same time as 2009 municipal elections to minimize cost and get the position filled quickly.

Obama has promised to disclose his staff interactions with the Blagojevich people next week, per a request from the US Attorney…

“After the President-elect announced an internal transition team investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office requested a brief delay of the release of a report of that investigation to conduct certain interviews.”

Obama is no longer our US Senator (he resigned weeks ago), and he has a few more important things on his plate than every possible legislative decision.

Also, it’s probably more likely that we’ll get an impeachment and removal and, therefore, an appointment before a special election can be held. Keep that in mind as well. I’m basically an agnostic on this issue, but there is zero chance that the General Assembly will return before January to take up the matter (unless Blagojevich does something extremely stupid like attempt to make the appointment on his own, which his lawyer said he wouldn’t do).

* And I’m not sure that the IL GOP wants to make this argument

Republicans have awakened from their post-George Ryan lethargy to campaign vigorously for a special election. But it’s possible the people’s best hope and the GOP’s best ally may be Ed Genson, Blagojevich’s lawyer and one of Chicago’s premier courtroom strategists.

Impeachment gives the Legislature wide leeway, so Genson’s quiver doesn’t hold as many legal arrows as in a courtroom. Still, his legal skills might be able to extend the impeachment process long enough for pressure to build to force lawmakers to schedule a special election.

Genson might try to take this matter into the federal courts, but that would almost assuredly be doomed. He won’t delay it long.

* Related…

* Republicans Revolt on RNC’s Obama-Blago Strategy

* Mikva not interested in replacing Obama in Senate; touts Rep. Jan Schakowsky for the seat

* Washington Post: We aren’t fans of gubernatorial appointments to the Senate. They are undemocratic and subject to abuse. Mr. Blagojevich’s alleged actions show in vivid detail the danger of putting that power in the hands of one person. The decision on who should represent the people of Illinois should rest in their hands.

posted by Rich Miller
Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:33 am


  1. Rich, this is pretty big stuff - hardly some “detail of Illinois politics.” Obama is likely in the clear on all of this. But I don’t see what’s wrong with the media calling for him to “do something.” They largely painted him as the guy who could fix a broken system. Calling on Obama to do it here - especially since it’s HIS old US Senate seat - isn’t unreasonable.

    Comment by phocion Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:38 am

  2. Republican leaders have zero credibility on the election issue so long as they continue to block Sen. Lauzen’s SB600 to allow voters to elect the GOP state central committee. If appointment is good enough for the GOP when it comes to their party leadership, then why is appointment so evil when it comes to the senate?

    Comment by keep 'em honest Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:38 am

  3. This is horrible! If a Senator is appointed, the people will never get to vote on that seat ever again! The sky is falling!

    Comment by vote Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:42 am

  4. Gingrich isn’t always the voice of reason and moderation, but he is right on this. The RNC is intent on branding itself as the model for high profile sleaze (I realize many already believe they hold that title). It is this type of “PARTY FIRST” mentality that has made me a former Republican and presently confirmed Independent.

    Comment by You Go Boy Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:47 am

  5. Obama should have left Illinois the day he was elected. Nothing good could come from him hanging around.

    Talking to Rod’s peeps about the Senate vacancy was a terrible mistake on so many levels, not least of which is that Pres. Obama’s Justice Department will quite likely be prosecuting the governor.

    Also, they knew who they were dealing with. Did they think that by asking Rod for a favor he might not want something in return? Or that Rod might not take some overture from them as a sign of sympathy. An awfully dangerous game.

    Obama shouldn’t have commented on whether Rod should resign. Now the media thinks they can drag him into every Illinois question.

    No upside, all downside for sticking around.

    Comment by wordslinger Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:50 am

  6. Before any of this happened, everyone fully understood and expected that Blago would make the Senate appointment as required by state law. It is not as if voters are being deprived of an existing “right” to vote on this matter.
    The next GA should change the law so that FUTURE Senate vacancies are filled by special election; but there is no need to rush to do it now. We’re less than two years away from the next Senate election anyway.

    Comment by Secret Square Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:52 am

  7. ==It’s really time that the media stops dragging President-Elect Barack Obama into every detail of Illinois politics.==

    Obama did it to himself. All he had to do was be the President-Elect and abstain from providing input into the next Senator from Illinois. He said he hadn’t spoken to the Governor since the election. That wasn’t true. They met at the Governor’s Assocation meeting after the election. There are photos of them talking.

    Look at this cabinet appointment pressers. He’s getting one or two questions about the appointment and the rest are all about his and his office’s alleged contacts with the governor and his office.

    There are plenty of reasons to talk about Obama and Illinois right now. He’s given us no reason to put the talk to rest.

    Comment by Gabriel Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:53 am

  8. It’s so transparent that you oppose a special election only because it would doom Bill’s chances at Senate.

    Comment by Easy Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:57 am

  9. ==Talking to Rod’s peeps about the Senate vacancy was a terrible mistake on so many levels, not least of which is that Pres. Obama’s Justice Department will quite likely be prosecuting the governor.

    Also, they knew who they were dealing with. Did they think that by asking Rod for a favor he might not want something in return? Or that Rod might not take some overture from them as a sign of sympathy. An awfully dangerous game.==

    Obama chose Rahm Emanuel as his COS, a sitting Congressman from Illinois. He knows exactly what mud he stepped into.

    It’s indefensible to claim at this point that Obama wasn’t aware of what he was doing. He’s a pro at this game. Nobody should be giving him rookie outs.

    Comment by Gabriel Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 11:57 am

  10. Why is it all of the sudden to much to expect that Obama help with this REFORM? He seems to have a big interest in who was going to replace him. Raum was talking directly to the Governor, did he do this on his own? Remember it was the Democrats who opened this door to a special election by calling the General Assembly in to special session. It was the Democrats who flipped on this issue. Now when Obama can make a real difference and force some real reform instead of the semi reform package he was allowed to carry for looks, he ducks. I know how busy he seems to be but he is not the first President elect, others found time to give their opinions but the polling seems to be against the Dem’s on this one so no special election.

    Comment by RAI Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:06 pm

  11. “Enough Already”

    “It’s really time that the media stops dragging President-Elect Barack Obama into every detail of Illinois politics.”

    We got 4yrs of this ahead. I’m not expecting much of a change in this.

    Comment by chicountryguy Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:07 pm

  12. Obama has been given a free pass on every little thing that threatens to cloud his image. As a man who got elected, as we are to believe, on his judgement over his (lack of) experience, what does the Tony Rezko deal and the endorsement of Blago in 2006 say about him?
    His candidacy and presidency is supposedly about wanting more from our politicians- and he is no different from most of them.

    Real “change” is hard- and it could have started at home with refraining from putting his name in Blago’s column.

    He is not guilt of anything in the senate seat debacle, but there is nothing wrong with finally asking him to be accountable for his decisions- Todd Stroger as well. Those endorsements were politics as usual.

    Comment by Splitendz Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:12 pm

  13. Rich,

    You’re right. After all, Obama worked very hard to escape this cesspool of corruption we all call home, and everyone should just wish him godspeed as he heads off to Washington. If we’re lucky, he’ll be as tireless and tenacious a reformer there as he has was here.

    Comment by grand old partisan Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:17 pm

  14. If this is changed, it should be for next time, so it is automatic. By the time the leg passes it, the gov sits on it, it dies, the leg passes it again, the gov sits on it for two more months, the en we have petitions, then a primary, then the general! Might as well leave the seat open for two years!

    Comment by Pot calling kettle Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:17 pm

  15. Bring on Gov Quinn and let him appoint a new senator. A special election now is a waste of money. If a Republican wants that seat bad enough then that person can fight for the seat in 2010. Obama or a member of his team should had talked to RB about the appointment to fill his seat. It was his seat and as President-elect, and a fellow Democrat RB should have asked for his input. Nothing wrong with that.

    Comment by GOPJay Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:24 pm

  16. For the next 2 years Blago will be the face of the Illinois Democratic party and that means he and Obama are connected at the hip! It’s not just the seat it now will blossum into all of the rest of the Fitzgerald investigations, Rezco, Levine, Mayor Daley. Oh boy will the country get a look at the party running Chicag and cook county for generations. I wonder when we will start hearing of the annual ball of Hincky Dink and Bath House John? Soon very soon.

    Comment by RAI Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:29 pm

  17. Capt. Fax:
    the media won’t drop the Obama stuff becuase it is too hard for the media to cover anything other than the personality disputes

    Comment by 2ConfusedCrew Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:41 pm

  18. I disagree 3with you, Rich. It is wholly appropriate for President-Elect Obama to answer for Blagojevich scandal as it has become evident that his own Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, participated in the U.S. Senate vacancy selection process. Until the extent and involvement of Obama’s transition team is know, the media is entitled to keep the story fresh.

    What surprises (and sickens me) is how self-righteous the Chicago Tribune is becoming in light of its historic endorsement of Obama (buyer’s remorse, perhaps?).

    Also, a hearty NO to Abner Mikva filling the U.S. Senate vacancy. HIS time has come and gone. It is not surprising that he is backing Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky as many prominent Jewish politicos are.

    Finally, I, for one, hope that the open U.S. Senate seat is filled by a Black person. Obama was the ONE and ONLY U.S. Senator of African heritage in the chamber. This is of critical and historic note and should be given a great amount of weight. A relative newcomer would be fine. To me, filling the role with a non-Black woman would be disrespectful and a disservice to a largely unrepresented minority group. (To wit, before Obama began raiding the U.S. Senate with cabinet appointments, I believe there were at least five women U.S. Senators and at least two Latino U.S. Senators - Martinez and Salazar). Come on, folks!

    Comment by Black Ivy Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 12:44 pm

  19. “keep ‘em honest” is absolutely right.

    The Illinois GOP has no credibility on the issue of real democracy, because its entrenched players keep fighting real democracy in their own State Party! The Illinois Democrats directly elect their State Party’s Central Committee, but a few in the IL GOP keep fighting the same right on the GOP side. The leaders of the IL GOP don’t even provide real democracy to their own Republican voters!

    From another angle, consider we wouldn’t even be in this mess right now if the GOP friends of people like GOP Chair Andy McKenna hadn’t worked so viciously to drive U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald out of politics.

    As it is, the Dems won this seat for a six year term in 2004. Frankly, I don’t blame the Dems for wanting to keep it in Dem hands. I know darn good and well my party would do the same, and would NEVER help change the law to provide for a different method of replacement.

    As long as the IL GOP is just going to be the hypocrite party, winning this seat back is a pipedream anyway.

    Comment by GOP'er Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 1:02 pm

  20. The media can’t seem to pronounce Blagojevich, but they can say Obama. If Shepherd SMith calls the governor “bloggo” one more time, I will scream.

    Comment by Shelbyville Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 1:06 pm

  21. GOP’er

    I’m not against changing our party’s rules, as so many have suggested, but (1) saying that we should be more like the Illinois Democrats right now isn’t the most persuasive arguement, and (2) I honestly don’t think that the internal rules of the party’s central committee were the main reason we did so poorly in the last few cycles. I think that George Ryan and the unpopularity of George has far more to do with that. After all, the current rules (which I agree, albiet not passionately, should be changed) are the same ones under which the party dominated the Governor’s Mansion and State Senate for almost a generation.

    Comment by grand old partisan Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 1:18 pm

  22. sorry, that should have said the “unpopularity of George Bush”

    Comment by grand old partisan Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 1:19 pm

  23. ===I think that George Ryan and the unpopularity of George has far more to do with that. ===

    Partial misdiagnosis. When you include GWB, your party’s horrific infighting, the unpopularity of some of your social issue stances, etc., then you’ll be a bit closer to the truth.

    Comment by Rich Miller Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 1:20 pm

  24. I don’t have a problem dragging the President from Illinois through Illinois politics, anymore than I would have a problem dragging Bush through Texas politics, that is, if Texas was shown as corrupt as Illinois was while Bush was part of it’s leadership.

    Comment by VanillaMan Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 1:34 pm

  25. If it’s part of the story, it’s part of the story. Until the Obama transition team’s involvement can be proved or disproved, there is too much out there to not make it a story.

    Comment by Fan of the Game Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 1:49 pm

  26. Black Ivy,
    If you think it’s vital to have an African American in the Senate, you can write to the Governor of New York or Colorado and see if they’ll do you the favor of avoiding the disrespect you fear if no African Americans are in the US Senate.

    Comment by phocion Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 2:25 pm

  27. jan schakowsky again? her husband’s troubles with the Feds are not the image Illinois needs. horrible idea.

    Comment by Amy Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 3:24 pm

  28. Seems a little foolish to me to give any weight to a persons race when picking a new Senator. Would the same argument be made if Durbin were to resign. Should the governor feel as if he should appoint a white male to fill that seat?

    Comment by GOPJay Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 3:29 pm

  29. Weight was certainly given in electing the first U.S. President of African heritage, folks (please note - I am one of the few respondents brave enough to acknowledge and respect Obama’s biracial heritage). How silly to proclaim it unfair or racially divisive to give weight to race in filling the U.S. Senate vacancy in Illinois.

    Yes, it absolutely DOES matter that Obama served as the only U.S. Senator of African heritage and serious consideration should be given to candidates of the same persuasion.

    I am a great proponent of diversity at all levels of government.

    Let’s be brave and not mince words.

    Comment by Black Ivy Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 4:10 pm

  30. Abner Mikva, the gold standard for integrity in Illinois politics ?
    Isn’t this the same guy who worked for Blagojevich on the casino license for Rosemont ? This would be at the same time Rezko was buying up property around Rosemont.
    I had to laugh when I saw Mikva on TV discussing these charges.
    He was Blago’s man.

    Comment by Maggie Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 4:48 pm

  31. And while I’m going after Mikva. There are very few politicians in this corrupt state who haven’t made some questionable deals with Blago. Democrats and Republicans.

    Comment by Maggie Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 4:52 pm

  32. On Obama. I’m no fan, but I don’t think Obama is involved in this mess. Here’s what I wrote from another post.
    I suspect since Obama has been asked to hold off making any comments until next week because Fitzgerald is going to give Blagojevich a big, big Christmas gift. Maybe he’ll wrap it up with a big red bow. Merry Christmas to the citizens of Illinois. But most important to the sleazy Elvis wannabe Governor Rod Blagojevich.
    Wouldn’t it be great if Fitzgerald dressed up like Santa to read the indictments. Merry Christmas Rod.

    Comment by Maggie Friday, Dec 19, 08 @ 4:57 pm

  33. Gingrich is right. Unless and until there’s evidence that Obama and/or his transition team, or anyone else on staff had anything to do with this mess, we need to stop trying to link him to this mess. The last thing we need in this Country right now is our President Elect having to deal with “Illinois politics” at the National level. Good for Newt for taking a stand.

    As for Black Ivy’s comment re: “keeping this fresh”, it can be done without constantly trying to link Obama without any evidence.

    Comment by Ahem...The REAL Anonymous Tuesday, Dec 23, 08 @ 12:02 am

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