Democracy Soup

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Whether Obama/Biden wins or McCain gets in, there will be new blood in the Senate

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Originally published on on Fri, 10/31/2008 – 9:44am

We profiled a number of Senate races last week. Minnesota, New Hampshire, Georgia, Oregon are among the states with tight Senate races. But there are three Senate races, not on the ballot, of importance, but the existence of those races depends on what happens on November 4.

Illinois, Delaware, and Arizona have “unofficial Senate races” in progress. In Illinois and Delaware, the governor has sole discretion on whom to pick to replace Barack Obama and Joe Biden, respectively, should the Democratic Party ticket win on Tuesday.

In Arizona, the governor, Democrat Janet Napolitano, has to pick someone from the same party, should John McCain win on November 4.

Though caretakers can be placed in the two-year interim period, usually a party likes to pick someone who will want to run again.

If you are looking to see how appointed Senators did afterwards, here is an official list. Roger Wicker (R-MS) was appointed to the Senate to replace Trent Lott, and Wicker is running for election in 2008. John Barrasso (R-WY) was appointed to the Senate to replace the late Craig Thomas. After saying he wouldn’t run to finish out Thomas’ term (2013), Barrasso changed his mind and is running.

Rod Blagojevich, former U.S. House rep and now in his second term as Illinois governor, has several quality candidates to choose from. There are those, myself included, who thinks Blagojevich will pick himself to replace Obama. But for the possibility that someone else will get the honor – let’s examine some of the other candidates.

The two Washington-based people who likely have a shot are Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Jesse Jackson, Jr. Schakowsky’s district covers the very north side of Chicago along with several near north suburbs. Jackson’s district covers the southeast side of Chicago along with near southern suburbs.

If Blagojevich feels pressure to replace an African-American with an African-American, Jackson, along with retiring Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr. and close Obama friend and top adviser Valerie Jarrett, would be considered.

But if selecting a woman becomes crucial, Schakowsky, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who narrowly lost a bid for the U.S. House, would be up for consideration.

Madigan is also the stepdaughter of Michael Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House and Blagojevich’s main political rival. The governor’s chair would be a logical next step for Lisa Madigan, not so much the U.S. Senate.

Democrats dominate the landscape in Illinois. You could literally list 20 people who are well-qualified for the post. But realistically, it will come down to Blagojevich, Schakowsky, and Jackson. And if Blagojevich doesn’t pick himself (and I still think he will pick himself), I think he’ll lean toward Schakowsky.

Illinois actually has had two elected African-American U.S. Senators and only one female U.S. Senator (Carol Moseley Braun fills out the remainder of both categories). The year 2010 climaxes as the end of the interim Senate period for the successor (Obama’s term would come up in 2010 anyway), and the end of Blagojevich’s term as governor.

If Blagojevich chooses to run again for governor, there will be several candidates to line up against him, and given that he is at 13% popularity (for a number of reasons), he has no guarantee that he will even get out of the Democratic Party gubernatorial primary alive. Lisa Madigan might get offered the Senate seat and turn it down, knowing that the prize she wants is two years away.

Delaware’s situation is not as exciting, but full of some intrigue. Governor Ruth Ann Minner is finishing up her second term and can’t run for re-election. Her logical pick to replace Joe Biden would have been Beau Biden, current Delaware Attorney General. However, Biden is currently serving in Iraq.

Another good candidate is current Lt. Gov. John Carney. In the Democratic Party primary for Governor, Carney lost to State Treasurer Jack Markell. So Carney would be available. Theoretically, Minner could also fill the post as a temporary move, allowing Beau Biden to run in 2010. The dynamic in Delaware is slightly different since Biden would be winning a 6-year term on Tuesday, the term would only be two years before having running to finish out the term.

Arizona’s situation differs strongly from Illinois and Delaware. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, would have to appoint a Republican to finish out John McCain’s term until 2010. Napolitano’s term as governor expires in 2010 and she can’t run for re-election. Besides Napolitano, on the Democratic side, we could see former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Jim Pederson, who lost to Sen. Jon Kyl in 2006.

Many of the House Republicans from Arizona would have their eye on the seat, but the one to watch would be Rep. Jeff Flake, known as one of the more libertarian Republicans in the House. Though Flake could probably have his choice of governor or Senator, Flake would likely go for the Senate.

It’s more difficult to speculate on specifically whom Napolitano would pick since she likely would pick someone who might not want to run in 2010, making the field more wide-open.


Written by democracysoup

October 31, 2008 at 9:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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