The Campaign Spot

Who Runs for Obama’s Seat in a Runoff?

The Illinois Republican Party has been in rough, rough shape for a while. But this speculation passed on from a reader is pretty intriguing:

Here’s a bit of speculation from a Chicago ex-pat – I think it is now a done deal that Illinois has a special election for Obama’s Senate seat.  Now, if Jesse Jackson, Jr. is Senate Candidate 5, I think this greatly increases the chances of a Republican taking that seat.  Most of the viable Democrats in Illinois who could win a statewide Senate election are heavily tied to Chicago.  Lisa Madigan is the most viable, but the word is her dad (IL House Speaker Mike Madigan – the real power in Springfield) wants her to be Governor.  If this forces Jackson out of a special election, that leaves three possible candidates, Emil Jones, Luis Gutierrez, and Tammy Duckworth (even if he ran, Jackson is too tainted to win now).  Jones and Gutierrez cannot, in my opinion, win a statewide contest.  The suburban counties and Downstate will never go along with it.  So, that leaves Duckworth.  She has a powerful story, but couldn’t win a House seat with it.

On the GOP side, there is already speculation that what is left of the GOP in IL will lean heavily on Jim Edgar to run.  As a popular former Governor (the last to leave office unindicted) he would be the odds-on favorite to defeat Duckworth.

A couple of points, though. Yes, ABC is reporting Jesse Jackson Jr. is Senate Candidate 5, citing federal law-enforcement sources. But let’s wait and see if this really ruins Jackson’s career; if allegations of corruption were enough to sink a Chicago politician, the city would have no officeholders.

Second, Jim Edgar’s comments in response to the scandal may or may not endear him to Illinois voters:

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar says the state’s voters share the blame for the scandal and crisis of confidence that follow the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
And Edgar says Blagojevich should resign, but he doesn’t expect him to.
Edgar says told reporters Tuesday at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign that voters were given plenty of reasons not re-elect Blagojevich two years ago by news reports detailing alleged corruption. Edgar is a distinguished fellow at the Institute of Government & Public Affairs on campus.
Edgar says voters represent the only realistic curb on future corruption. The former Republican governor says potential legislative solutions don’t work.

Tough love? Or blaming voters? Will the electorate want to be reminded that they elected Blagojevich twice?

Finally, remember that the Democrat will have a fairly significant card to play in a runoff: President-Elect Obama, who presumably would be more active for a Senate race in his home state than he was in the Georgia runoff. As long as the Democratic candidate is reasonably clean, they probably will hold the seat.

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