Illinois: Governor Talks With Two Members on Vacancy

Posted November 19, 2008 at 6:43pm

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) confirmed on Wednesday that she is under consideration by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate.

“I had a long conversation with the governor yesterday,” Schakowsky said late Wednesday afternoon. “There are a number of people he’s considering and I’m certainly on that list.”

The embattled Blagojevich, himself a former House Member, has been tight-lipped about possible Obama replacements and a timeline for the process — decisions that are his alone. Schakowsky did say, however, that the governor plans on naming a replacement during the last two weeks of the year.

Earlier on Wednesday, a state Democratic operative confirmed that Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D), too, had met with Blagojevich about the vacancy. But in a statement, Gutierrez said his “priority isn’t being in the House or being in the Senate.”

“My priority is immigration reform,” he said. “Wherever I feel I can be most effective is where I want to be.”

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D), who some observers had considered until recently the frontrunner to replace Obama, “has not had a direct conversation with the governor” about the seat, his office confirmed.

“We’re obviously willing and waiting for the opportunity to sit down with the governor when he calls,” Jackson spokesman Ken Edmonds said.

Schakowsky declined to elaborate on her discussion with the governor, saying that “we mostly just chatted,” but the lawmaker did emphasize her electability in 2010, when Land of Lincoln voters will elect a Senator for a full term.

“I certainly think I am electable,” she said. “That’s one of things that I pointed out to him — I have a lot of downstate connections and support from organized labor, seniors’ and women’s organizations.”

“I already have a electoral organization that sent literally thousands of people to Iowa and Indiana in the presidential race, a proven capacity for fundraising and an agenda,” she added. “I made a case that in 2010 — which may not be a fantastic year for Democrats — you want somebody who is tough campaigner and can hold that seat.”

In addition to Schakowsky, Gutierrez and Jackson, the list of other potential Senate picks includes Rep. Danny Davis (D), outgoing state Senate President Emil Jones Jr. (D), and Tammy Duckworth, whom Blagojevich appointed as secretary of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.