What if there is a Senate Vacancy

My superstitious side isn’t thrilled with this, but Eric Zorn asks who might replace Obama if he were to become President.

Second, let me throw out a few names of possible replacements for your consideration and analysis: * U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
* U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky
* U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel
* U.S. Rep. Luis Guitierrez
* Ill. Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan
* Ill. Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias
* Ill. Comptroller Dan Hynes
* Former Ill. Sen. Carol Ronen
* Dan Seals
* Tammy Duckworth
* Ill. Rep. Jay Hoffman (D.-Collinsville)
* Gov. Rod Blagojevich (nothing I see in the law prevents him from appointing himself)

Would he choose to reward an ally? Toss a favor toward a constituent group? Get a potential political rival safely out of the way?

A smart and popular choice would be Lisa Madigan, who’s not only widely seen as a likely challenger to Blagojevich for the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nomination but also the daughter of his bitter legislative rival, House Speaker Michael Madigan

Jackson would have been a decent guess a couple years ago when Jackson and Blagojevich were cozying up on a set of issues. The problem now is that Jackson would have the double baggage of defending the seat as a Blagojevich supporter and Jesse Jackson Jr which creates a bunch of issues downstate.

Schakowsky would love it and it would burnish Blagojevich’s credit with progressives, but there isn’t a large upside and it’s safe to say that there has to be an upside.

Guitierrez is a horrible fundraiser and seemingly lax campaigner.  It’s hard to imagine he’d want to think about running a Senate campaign in 2010.  And he has Rezko ties which Blagojevich doesn’t want to bring up.

Rahm? My guess is Rahm wants to be Speaker. The Senate wouldn’t be as natural of a fit for him, though he could easily hold the seat.  Again though, I don’t see the upside for Blagojevich.

Dan Seals? He was to win a Congressional seat first.

Blagojevich himself–nah. He wasn’t much in DC and from what I understand it wasn’t his favorite place.

Madigan? It’s hard to say. She seems less likely to get in the Governor’s race–or at least that’s the murmerings so he might take that shot.  It also would be doing a nice thing for Mike Madigan and even if it’s politically motivated, Blagojevich wouldn’t do that.

Hynes? I think in the delusional mind of Rod Blagojevich, Hynes is who he wants to run against in 2010 if he runs again and he sees Hynes as the least threatening.  He’s wrong. While Dan is a bit sedate, he’s a perfect antidote to Blagojevich.

Giannoulis?  A very real possibility. Alexi is a threat and doesn’t have the baggage of the Madigans.   Giannoulis would take it as a big vertical move with little to risk.

Hoffman? I think this might be the choice. Blagojevich is loyal and no one has stuck with him through everything more than Hoffman.  Hoffman is kind of stuck right now as well. He’s been so loyal he is essentially seen as Blagojevich and that’s probably unfair.  The assumption is he wanted to run for AG when it’s open, but with Blagojevich around his neck, that would be hard right now. He’s smart and works hard and as an incumbent he could win in 2010 easily.

Duckworth?  That’s the best choice probably on the list from his point in that it truly would be an appointment of someone who isn’t a crony and would make him look good.  She’s likeable and has a great story.

From that list, I’d put it down as a 1. Hoffman, 2. Duckworth, and 3. Giannoulis as his likely picks (don’t ask me to make a choice, I like all three in different ways).

But I think there are some other names that should be in the mix.

Manny Flores–the Latino pick who would hold that seat and get a whole lot of support for Blagojevich if he ran again.

Blair Hull. See rationale for Jay Hoffman, but remember Hull has been a huge financial backer of the Governor.  This is my favorite theory even if it seems a bit out there.

Vallas.  Gets Vallas out of the way–see Madigan/Giannoulis.

I’d say Halvorson, but she’s running for Congress. She might have Emil’s support since she’s been a loyal Majority Leader.  She’d be great as well.

So my handicapping of what he will do:

1) Hoffman

2) Hull

3) Duckworth

4) Giannoulis

5) Flores

My wishes:

1) Giannoulis with Duckworth taking his spot

2)  Flores

3)  Duckworth

4)  Hoffman

5) Hull

19 thoughts on “What if there is a Senate Vacancy

  1. Does Glenn Poshard warrant mentioning?

    Here’s a scenario if the Milkman wins in IL-14. Appoint Linda Chapa LaVia with the understanding she’d run in IL-14 instead of running for re-election.

  2. Hoffman wants to be SoS. You’re right about JJJr. No way. Rod despises the man. Manny Flores just backed a candidate against Sen. Willie Delgado and lost, so Emil Jones would be very upset at that choice. Ronen would not do well in a statewide setting. She and Rod are like siblings, but Rod knows better. Jan Schakowski wants it, and she’ll lobby hard, but there’s the issue with her husband and her voting record. The pro-choice people would never forgive Rod if he appointed James Meeks. I doubt Rod can get past his hatred of Lisa to appoint her to anything except the gates of Hell.

    Duckworth is interesting, but what many forget when they do this handicapping is that African-American leaders will almost assuredly demand that RRB appoint another African-American to the seat. That’s when it will get tricky because Latinos will want their shot as well. Blagojevich prides himself on his strong ties to both communities. So, a white guy would probably not be a good political choice. If this analysis seems too “ethnic,” then remember this is Illinois.

    My initial guess would be either a black woman or a Latina, depending on his mood and whatever passes for a flash of brilliance in his somewhat addled mind. However, there aren’t many in either category with a lot of name ID or instant credibility for such a high office.

    Also, Obama will probably have his own preference, which won’t be easily ignored.

    Here are a few lesser-discussed prospects to munch on…

    Robin Kelly? (former state Rep. who is now Alexi’s chief of staff, so there’s a strong tie to Obama, plus she fits the profile of the most desirable replacement)

    Miguel del Valle? (universally beloved now that he’s an elder statesman)

    Larry Rogers? (allied with Blago pal Houlihan)

    Anita Alvarez? (fits the profile and worked with Rod at the state’s attorney’s office and he likes her, but she hasn’t even won her first election yet)

    Debra Shore? (very strong campaigner)

    Iris Martinez? (Fits the profile except that she ain’t exactly the brightest porch light on the block)

    Heck, I dunno. Truly. It may even be someone who isn’t in elective office now. For instance, Carole Brown (CTA would be a big obstacle to overcome). Or even a downstater.

    These are just a few names for fodder, not predictions. Nobody can ever predict with any level of certainty what that man will do. It’s why I love him so.

    All that being said, if I was Rod I’d appoint Patrick Fitzgerald. 🙂

  3. “ain’t exactly the brightest porch light on the block”

    That is a little gratuitous, no?

  4. “Duckworth is interesting, but what many forget when they do this handicapping is that African-American leaders will almost assuredly demand that RRB appoint another African-American to the seat. That’s when it will get tricky because Latinos will want their shot as well.”

    I have thought the same thing — but who? No one placates both groups. I think Luis has a strong shot because he has flirted with leaving the House so often, and is so tight with Rod. I think del Valle is an interesting choice, and appointing “San Miguel” (as I’m told he’s known in the Latino community) might improve Rod’s image as it did the Mayor’s (which is to say, marginally, but some nonetheless).

    Both have good relations with Obama, who, I think you very rightly assert, would have a BIG voice in the choice.

    But that all brings me back to Duckworth. She is obviously tight with Durbin, as well as Obama. She is a woman, veteran, disabled and a minority, so while it would slightly rankle African Americans and Latinos, theirs would be a much thinner complaint than if the choice were, say, Blair Hull, or even Schakowsky (who I agree is a lot too liberal to sell well south of I-80…or Howard St. – though it would be fun to torture John Ruberry).

    I still think the African American community would howl if it were not another African American, but I just don’t see who that is.

  5. How about Forrest Claypool? A true reformer and I am sure an ally of Obama if he makes it to the US Senate.

  6. Poshard being pro-life pretty much eliminates him. I think he’s a great guy, but I’d have significant issues with him being appointed even.

  7. Forrest isn’t well liked by the African-American contingent—especially those close to Rod. Emil would probably blow a gasket. I like Forrest and it crossed my mind, but I don’t see how he fits what Blagojevich wants.

    As discussed above, a black or latino candidate not being chosen would make it hard to chose a white male–especially one who is not liked in much of the black community for challenging the Strogers.

  8. Rich brings up a lot of names that were beyond me and more importantly frames the problem as does Shibley Fan. There aren’t black candidates who fit the profile of what Rod needs. Someone like Kwame who people have brought up is still a rookie in the State Senate and just not ready.

    On the Latino side, I just don’t see Gutierrez because he is such a bad fundraiser. If you are going to appoint someone I assume you want to make sure they’ll stick around and Gutierrez can barely pay his DCCC dues. On top of it, the Rezko house sale with him doesn’t look like much, but the press would crawl through it. Blagojevich doesn’t want Rezko in the news anymore than he already is.

    Rich points out Flores’ problems with Emil so that strikes him.

    Debra Shore is an interesting idea and I’d love that. She’s extremely progressive though and given he’ll have to run for reelection with the person appointed, I’m not sure he wants to do that. She also would have strong relations in another area–LGBT. The thing is that could make the black ministers go apeshit. Replacing a black man with a lesbian white woman would be almost their worst outcome.

  9. Given Rod’s precarious political position and his enemies, it’s just that there isn’t an easy pick–the few decent choices who fit a profile that would work are too green and those that aren’t green have some strike against them with a key constituency.

    Hence, why I can see him choosing Blair Hull 😉

    Though I think Duckworth might make a good choice for splitting the baby.

  10. JonShibleyFan does make a good case about Duckworth being a decent compromise, which has made me rethink things. She’s not a total lib, she’s a minority, she’s a wounded war hero. She’s not a Chicagoan. Plus, Rod has already elevated her once.

    The question there would be health. She had some real problems in ’06 that weren’t reported (she had to stop every day for an IV antibiotic treatment, for example). A statewide race would add more stress. I haven’t talked to her in a few months to check up, but the last time I did she seemed fine.

    If she’s healthy, she could be a powerful choice. I heard from several poll-watching pals in ’06 about how lots of Chicagoans were upset when they found out she wasn’t on their ballots. Her ads and her image went over very well in the city. It would be tough to complain about her.

  11. he could punt…i think i saw someone suggest jesse white.

    jesse could retire as senator white, and then blago wouldn’t have to worry about alienating anyone with his pick.

    oh, wait…that throws the whole argument off.

    This is blago.


  12. I think I’m a little late coming into this one. I agree with Rich about this being Illinois and a minority replacing a minority is key to a vacant senate seat. Personally I think the best choice for the job is Lisa Madigan. I don’t think Rod is looking at 2010, he knows he’s done. Even without an indictment, any decent Republican would beat him in 2010. Aside from Lisa, I suppose Alexi, though I think he needs to spend some more time as treasurer first.

    Or, Rod could appoint Jesse White, pleasing minorities and the Party and then let the voters figure it out the year later. There’s no way Jesse would be up for a US Senate election.

    Cool site.

  13. jerry 101 makes another good point. Getting Jesse White to the US Senate would allow him to appoint Punkinhaid to SoS. Brilliant!

  14. Your post has so many fallacies and weaknesses it makes your “expertise” a bit underwhelming..
    First of all, Alexi Giannoulias has more baggage than Mariah Carey on her way to Aspen. Hello loans to convicted felons? Hello Greek mob covers? Can you say Mike Giarango?
    Second of all, like Dan Seals, Tammy Duckworth hasn’t been elected to a congressional seat either. Not such a smart move to put an inexperienced candidate into such an important vacancy, especially with all the flack Obama has received for lack of experience..and he held a state senate seat.
    Last of all, the only person who Blagojevich likes less than Judy Baar Topinka is Mike Madigan. Therefore, choosing Lisa Madigan is just not going to happen.

  15. Except Alexi’s ‘ties’ are that people affiliated with the mob got loans that pass every test as legitimate from a loaning banks’ perspective. Keeping up Madigan’s smear campaign is kind of silly given even Madigan gave up on it.

    Secondly, did you read what I said about Seals and Madigan? I said almost the same thing. Perhaps your reading skills are undwhelming.

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