Schakowsky possible contender for Burris seat

March 27, 2009 2:53:48 PM PDT
Roland Burris is sure to have strong competition should he decide to run in 2010. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is a possible contender. ABC7 political reporter Charles Thomas talked to her Friday.

The six-term congresswoman, who represents the city's lakefront and near northeast suburbs, says she'll make up her mind about the U.S. Senate race sometime in the next six weeks.

"I'm talking to a lot of people, weighing going to the Senate as opposed to keeping 12 year seniority in the House of Representatives," said Schakowsky.

After 11 years in Congress she has earned the title of house chief deputy whip and serves on the energy, commerce and intelligence committees.

"She and I share the same values in politics," Durbin said. "She would be a terrific United States senator."

Schakowsky's interest is lower profile than Illinois treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. He formed an "exploratory committee" last month to seek support and raise money for his possible run for the seat now held by appointed junior senator Roland Burris.

Senator Burris, still mired in controversy surrounding his appointment by ousted governor Rod Blagojevich, has appeared at public events but will not take questions from reporters.

"Because of the way he was appointed and so forth, it makes it more difficult for him," said Rev. Walter Coleman, community activist.

Close aides indicated there had been no serious discussion with them about Burris running for a full term.

"Right now we have need of a senator who will serve our needs for this present day," said Rev. Albert Tyson, Burris adviser.

Schakowsky is enticed by the possibility of an open seat in 2010. And she knows that it would not hurt if she were the only female candidate in the primary.

"I definitely think that in the United States Senate it would serve our state well to have another woman representing Illinois," said Schakowsky.

Political experts ABC7 has consulted agree that a run for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois could cost anywhere from $10-15 million. With the primary only 10 months away, candidates have to begin making their cases sooner than later.