“Vote early, but vote once!” That ought to be the new mantra in Illinois politics. The only way out of the current scandal concerning the filling of Barack Obama’s former Senate seat is to hold a special election. Yes, I know. It’s not truly the only way out; but it’s certainly the best way out.
Let’s consider the options:
-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is showing himself as stubborn as a mule, can still pick the replacement; but there is no law that says the U.S. Senate has to swear that person in. Even if it did, the damage to Democrats and Barack Obama’s first year in office would be disastrous. It would appear to be a cynical ploy just to get Democrats one seat closer to the filibuster-proof 60-seat majority. The new senator would be a pariah in Washington (and Illinois), no matter who it was. Reelection in 2010 would be nearly impossible.
-Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn could become Governor on Blagojevich’s impeachment or resignation. Quinn could make the Senate appointment and says he is inclined to do so. While he’d like a special election, that process could be long and expensive; and Quinn says that Illinois needs two Senators in Washington during the current economic crisis. I can’t argue with that; but, short of Mother Theresa coming back to take the seat, anyone else looks tainted by the process.
-The special election is the best way out. We’re a democracy, and it’s always best to let the people decide, no matter how flawed the person we select. It is still our choice!
And, yes, that gives the Republicans a very good shot at gaining another U.S. Senate seat; but, that’s democracy. So let the chips fall where they may. Having the Governor choose at this point, regardless of who the Governor is, just smacks of politics as usual.
The irony is that on Monday the Illinois Legislature will take up the issue of stripping the Governor of his powers to make the appointment and, instead, will call for a special election. Presuming the bill passes, it will go to the Governor’s desk. I can’t imagine he’ll sign it. That keeps the standoff alive. Impeachment of Blagojevich likely won’t be considered until January.
January ought to be one of Illinois’s proudest moments. The state that sent Lincoln, one of our greatest leaders to the White House, should be beaming with pride as it watches another resident take the oath of office. Instead, this embarrassing cloud may still be hanging over our country on Inauguration Day.
For those who think this is some Republican-driven agenda to embarrass the new President, look again. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, plans to argue before the Illinois Supreme Court that Blagojevich should be declared unfit for office and removed. While her intentions are in the right place, she, too, has been mentioned as a potential Senate replacement for Obama.
So, the best way to go is still a special election. Let all these “wanna-be” Senators run for office and make their case to the voters. The only question is "Will Gov. Blagojevich let them as, perhaps, his last official act?"
I have a feeling we’ll be talking about this issue lots more. Keep coming back to www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.