Obama's Senate seat up for grabs

Jones, Jackson throw hats into ring
CHICAGO Retiring Illinois Senate President Emil Jones has said he's interested in the position. So has Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior.

During a public appearance on Monday, Blagojevich- who will select Obama's replacement-spoke about Jackson, with whom he met on Monday.

"He has a very strong case to make. He's a very strong contender," said Blagojevich.

However, Jones is one of the governor's staunchest allies, and therefore his announcement on the radio Sunday will have a profound effect on the selection process.

" I am interested. But I'm not out here promoting it. I'll let my record speak for itself," said Jones.

As Illinois Senate President, Jones has not wavered in his support for the beleaguered Blagojevich. The day after Obama's election, long before Jones expressed in any interest in the U.S. Senate, the governor said about his trusted ally.

"If you're asking me do i feel he's qualified and has a proven record of being someone that I would seriously consider? The answer is absolutely yes," said Blagojevich on November 5, 2008.

At 73, Jones is the oldest of all those under consideration, which leads to speculation he might act as a 'caretaker' who would not seek re-election in 2010. Congressman Danny Davis, 67, said at an event with west suburban supporters that he definitely would stand for election and would be a better appointment than Jones.

"Danny Davis would be a better United States senator than any of the individuals who have indicated that they'd like to be a United States senator," said Rep. Danny K. Davis.

Meanwhile, Illinois Republicans are watching the Democrats closely. Their possible candidates for the 2010 Senate possible include Congressmen Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam, as well as Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross.

Party Chairman Andy McKenna says whomever Blagojevich appoints will be tainted by the governor's reported thirteen percent approval rating.

"People are troubled with the governor's leadership, his ethical lapses, the problems fiscally within the state," said McKenna, IL Republican chairman. "I think whoever he appoint, particularly someone like Senator Jones, is going to have to deal with that and certainly we'll challenge that in the election."

The governor says he'll make the appointment before the end of the year. If Jones promises not to run for re-election in 2010, he would be a safe appointment for the governor because it would open up the 2010 race to all comers.

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