Jockeying continues for Obama Senate seat

November 21, 2008 4:59:47 PM PST
There's some very intense political maneuvering going on by candidates who want to take Barack Obama's seat in the U.S. Senate.Governor Rod Blagojevich will pick Obama's successor. And there is growing pressure for the governor to make his decision.

The governor has said his process will be deliberative, and he'll appoint an Obama successor before the end of the year. But there's a growing "why wait" chorus since the outgoing Congress has some immensely important economic issues on its plate.

Some are actively seeking the appointment. Others less so, but say they'd be honored if asked.

"This is one major point in our history, and it's important to understand we can't go backward," said Rev. Walter Turner, Pres. Il. Faith-Based Assn.

A group of Chicago clergymen is urging the governor to appoint an African-American to the Obama seat. They're not endorsing any candidate but say the person the governor picks should be electable and carry on a progressive agenda.

"The governor is a bright guy, and this pick has national implications," said Rev. Marshall Hatch, New Mount Pilgrim Baptist.

President-elect Obama resigned his Senate seat last Sunday, an action seen by some as a signal to speed up the naming of his replacement, especially when there are issues of huge economic consequence that may require critical votes before this Congress adjourns.

"We are in trouble, and we cannot afford to have just one senator taking a vote," said Delmarie Cobb, political consultant.

The governor has said he'd make his selection before the end of the year. He is aware of requests that the process be expedited, but beyond that, the governor's office has no comment.

"If the governor ever gives me a call, I'll sit down with him and give him a number of names," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

The state's senior senator says his office tried to reach the governor last week. The governor's office says there was no sleight. It was just a matter of phone tag, and that the two will talk soon.

But with the array of possible Obama replacements fairly well known at this point and pressing national issues, some suggest the governor need not wait to the end of the year.

Appointing an Obama replacement earlier rather than later would give that person a leg-up in seniority among the seven new faces coming to the U.S. Senate. That can play itself out in who gets what committee assignments. The governor's office is certainly aware of all that, and has said this will be a careful, deliberative process.


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