Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Meet Pat Quinn: the man who might pick Barack Obama’s Senate replacement

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Originally published on on Tue, 12/09/2008 – 1:55pm

If you have a pool on who Barack Obama’s Senate replacement will be, you should probably start over. Yes, even with the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich this morning, there is still a possibility that the incumbent could be the one to make the pick. But since the allegations from the Justice Department involve the selling of the Senate seat, we should probably get to know Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn’s reputation is almost the opposite of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Note: governor and lieutenant governor candidates run separately in party primaries). By all accounts, they rarely speak to each other and generally don’t like each other.

Quinn is a true reformer. He is best known for leading the successful statewide campaign to reduce the size of the Illinois House of Representatives from 177 members to 118 members. Quinn’s other statewide role was as State Treasurer from 1991-1995.

In a midday news conference today, Quinn suggests Blagojevich should step aside, not necessarily to resign, so that the work for the people can be done. Though, he offers that the governor could resign. He advises the General Assembly to meet immediately to review the process in terms of the governor’s powers to pick a replacement Senator.

Quinn said the General Assembly should quickly pass legislation to take away Blagojevich’s power to appoint a Senate replacement for Barack Obama, and should override any potential veto.

Article 5, Section 6 of the Illinois Constitution deals with gubernatorial succession:

In subset c, if “the Governor determines that he may be seriously impeded in the exercise of his powers, he shall so notify the Secretary of State and the officer next in line of succession. The latter shall thereafter become Acting Governor with the duties and powers of Governor. When the Governor is prepared to resume office, he shall do so by notifying the Secretary of State and the Acting Governor.”

This provision might be what Quinn is referring to in stepping aside. Blagojevich can retain the gubernatorial title, but Quinn, the “officer next in line of succession,” would be Acting Governor.

Subset d proposes a different solution, also likely hinted by Quinn at the news conference:

“The General Assembly by law shall specify by whom and by what procedures the ability of the Governor to serve or to resume office may be questioned and determined. The Supreme Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to review such a law and any such determination and, in the absence of such a law, shall make the determination under such rules as it may adopt.”

The Assembly is in winter recess, though House Speaker Michael Madigan and outgoing Senate President Emil Jones could certainly reconvene under extraordinary circumstances.

Quinn said Blagojevich “knows what he need to do for the people,” but clearly didn’t want to specifically call for the governor to resign.

As for who Quinn would pick, Quinn is further to the left than Blagojevich, so perhaps Rep. Jan Schakowsky would be an ideological fit. And if by chance Quinn picks himself, the Attorney General is next in succession. The current Attorney General is Lisa Madigan, who is seen as a strong gubernatorial candidate in 2010 (and is the stepdaughter of House Speaker Madigan).

The senior senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, is calling for a special election to replace Barack Obama in the Senate. The way the Illinois Constitution goes, there is almost no shot of that happening. Whether the Senate would seat a replacement picked by Blagojevich, especially if he picks himself, is up to the Senate.

Hopefully, there will be a gentler (and honest) fashion of picking the Senate replacement for Barack Obama.


Written by democracysoup

December 9, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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