Special Senate election could cost millions

December 11, 2008 3:24:29 PM PST
Illinois lawmakers are expected to convene in Springfield on Monday. They will consider unseating him if he refuses to resign, as well as whether a special election should be held to fill the president-elect's vacant Senate seat. Lawmakers are going back to Springfield early next week to weigh their options. While some high-profile Democrats called for a special election two days ago, now, some are back peddling. Republicans, on the other hand, say a special election will create a great opportunity for their party.

"I think the Illinois General Assembly Should enact a law as quickly as possible, calling for a special election to fill the Senate vacancy of Barack Obama," Sen. Dick Durbin said Tuesday.

He may have spoken too soon. The day Gov. Blogojevich was arrested, Illinois' Senior Senator Dick Durbin was quick to call for a special election, but now, many Democrats are rethinking that idea.

If Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn becomes governor, he would likely appoint someone as soon as possible.

"I think the sooner we can get a US senator the better, to replace Barack Obama," said Quinn.

A special election would mean the Senate would not have Obama's replacement until April. Quinn says that is too long in today's declining economy for Illinois to be represented by just one senator.

Others are worried about the cost of a special election.

"The special election can cost taxpayers anywhere between $30 million to $50 million at a time when the state really does not have those kinds of reserves," said Ill. Sen. Susan Garrett, (D) 29th District.

Many Democrats fear a special election would open a big door for the Republicans.

"If we had a special election, it would not only hurt the chances of having an African-American in the Senate, it would also hurt the chances of having a Democrat in the Senate," said Delmarie Cobb, political consultant.

Which is exactly why Republicans are all for the idea of a special election.

"It's the people's seat, and they should choose. That selection process I think should also include a Republican," said Ill. Sen. Kirk Dillard, (R) 24th District.

Dillard says a Republican like North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk. Some polls already show Kirk as a strong candidate.

Democrat Susan Garrett believes a special bipartisan nominating panel should pick Obama's replacement.

"We need to have this group basically charged with the authority and the responsibility to interview and establish criteria for candidates who are running for Barack Obama's Senate seat," Garrett said.

Garrett says a nominating panel would not cost the taxpayers any money. Garrett also says not only would a special election cost millions, but keep in mind how much money candidates must raise for a primary and general election.

If there were to be a special election, the primary would be in February and the general election would take place in April.


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