It’s barely been two days since Barack Obama and Joe Biden were elected to the top two offices in the land. And it’s been less than a day since Rahm Emanuel agreed to serve as their chief of staff. But, of course, that hasn’t stopped eager up-and-comers looking to slip into the already-warm seats without a race.
Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. is a widely mentioned replacement for Obama. Governor Rod Blagojevich (who himself is under investigation by the Feds for possible corruption and faces a possible impeachment before 2010) is the one choosing, and he’ll be under pressure to sub in another black politician for Obama, as he’s currently the only one in the Senate. Obama himself is not likely to be involved in the situation — one expert told Congressional Quarterly: “Obama will not step foot into Illinois politics. It’s a minefield. He’d go to Kabul before he’d go to Springfield.”
Other names being bandied about include:
• Illinois State Senate president Emil Jones, who was an early Chicago mentor of Obama’s and is an ally of Blagojevich’s.
• Former Chicago city councilman and current U.S. Congressman Danny Davis.
• Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. White, Jones, and Davis are all black.
• Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran who ran for election to the United States Congress in 2006 and lost. She’s currently Blagojevich’s Secretary for Veteran’s Affairs.
• Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
• U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, who is the Chief Deputy Whip and a former Illinois assemblywoman.
Regarding his Senate seat, which he won the same day he won the vice-presidency, Joe Biden is said to be much more involved. He is hoping to pass the seat to his son, Beau Biden, the Delaware attorney general. The problem with this, according to the Associated Press, is that Beau is scheduled to be deployed to Iraq for the next nine months. As a result, if Papa Biden’s dreams are to come true, a seat-warmer will need to be appointed to hold the spot for Beau in 2010, when another election will be held. This means somebody who won’t seek reelection. The selection will either be made by outgoing Governor Ruth Ann Minner or Governor-elect Jake Markell. They are both Democrats. Names that have been mentioned so far include:
• Delaware Secretary of State Harriet Smith Windsor.
• Lt. Governor John C. Carney Jr. He’s the state party’s choice, but is not likely to want to step down when young Beau becomes available — he just lost a close gubernatorial primary, so he’s clearly got ambitions.
• Myron Steele, chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court.
Rahm Emanuel had barely even accepted the job of chief of staff before just-elected Illinois Representative Deborah Mellthrew her hat in the ring. She’s the sister-in-law of Governor Blagojevich and the daughter of a longtime Chicago alderman. She’s also an open lesbian who says she has a solid base in her largely gay district. Other names mentioned include:
• Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley.
• State Representative John Fritchey.
• State Representative Sara Feigenholtz.
• State Senator John Cullerton, who is seeking to be the next State Senate president.
This contest will be decided by a special primary and election, to be scheduled in the next three months by Governor Blagojevich.
Emanuel departure starts race for vacant seat [Hill]
Jockeying Begins for Obama’s Senate Seat [Washington Wire/WSJ]
It’s Not Over Yet: Obama’s and Biden’s Senate Seats Need to Be Filled [Congressional Quarterly]
Biden wins 7th Senate term but may not serve [AP]