Monday, December 15, 2008

Illinois Democrats Make Up Cost As Reason For No Special Election

House Speaker Mike Madigan convened a special session of the House today to hear legislation establishing a special election to fill Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. Illinois Democrats announced the move in an effort to thwart any attempt by Gov. Rod Blagoyevich to name Obama's replacement in the wake of a federal investigation accusing him of attempting to sell the Senate seat.

After legislators arrived in Springfield and the House Democrats caucused, the Democrats had a change of heart and no longer want a special election. Their excuse is the supposed high cost of a special election. This excuse is specious. Next year, Illinois will conduct municipal and township elections. The primary is on February 24, 2009 and the general election is on April 7, 2009. Proposals for a special election called for piggy-backing the Senate election on the previously-scheduled municipal elections. The special election to fill the vacancy created by U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel's resignation to become Obama's White House Chief of Staff is expected to follow this same schedule.

The municipal elections don't typically generate a big turnout. My suspicion is that Democrats fear they might lose a special election to a Republican under the Illinois Democratic Party's cloud of scandal. Hence, previous calls for a special election are being laid aside in hopes of an earlier removal date of Gov. Blagoyevich. Also, Speaker Madigan may want his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to get the Senate appointment. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who supported a special election before he opposed one, may want to appoint Madigan to the Senate position to remove her from competition for the 2010 gubernatorial race. Interestingly, Blagoyevich put out word he would support a special election to replace Obama if it applied to all Senate appointments by a governor and not just this appointment.

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