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Special Election To Replace Emanuel Set for April 7

Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) announced today that he has set April 7 as the date for the special election to fill former Rep. Rahm Emanuel’s (D) 5th district seat.

Emanuel resigned his seat on Jan. 2 to become President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff.

Blagojevich represented the north Chicagoland seat before Emanuel, who was re-elected to his fourth term on Election Day. Even with scandal-ridden Blagojevich still in office, the district is expected to stay in Democratic column.

Blagojevich was arrested last month on federal corruption charges, including allegedly attempting to pawn off Obama’s Senate seat. Amid the controversy surrounding the governor, Blagojevich named former state Attorney General Roland Burris (D) to succeed Obama — despite warnings from Democrats that any Blagojevich appointment would be considered tainted and rejected by the Senate.

The 5th district seat is also close to the Blagojevich controversy: The special election was referenced in the federal complaint on Blagojevich, who allegedly wanted to speak with Emanuel about the district. Also according to the affidavit, Blagojevich was looking into his legal powers to see if could he appoint an interim Member to the seat.

In a statement from his official office, Blagojevich designated a special primary election for March 3, 2009.

“I am pleased to set these election dates so that the people of the Fifth Congressional District can have a representative in Congress as quickly as possible,” Blagojevich said in a statement. “With our nation in a recession, we need to ensure that Illinois’ voice is being represented in Washington D.C. to get our economy back on track.”

Among the likely Democratic contenders for the seat: state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, state Rep. John Fritchey, former state Rep. Nancy Kaszak, who lost primaries to both Emanuel and Blagojevich, Chicago Alderman Pat O’Connor and Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley.

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