When Ezekiel spoke of wheels within wheels, he might have had a vision of Illinois state politics in 2008. The legislature returns to Springfield today to sort out the mess created by Governor Rod Blagojevich and his pay-for-play attempts to sell Barack Obama’s open Senate seat. While the legislature debates impeachment and special elections, the Chicago Tribune points out the underlying political game between Pat Quinn and Lisa Madigan that may be driving their public positions on the scandal:
Illinois lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday with plans to disarm and dislodge Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose arrest in an alleged attempt to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat has thrown state government up for grabs.
But with Republicans looking to turn the tables on Democrats who control the Statehouse, and disagreement among leaders over whether to proceed with impeachment and how to handle the Senate dilemma, the only certainty on the agenda is chaos.
While that drama plays out, the Lieutenant Governor and the Attorney General have started their own pas de deux. Lt. Governor Quinn staked out his third position in the last week on the solution to the crisis yesterday. After first backing a special election and then deciding that he wanted to make the appointment himself, Quinn decided to have it both ways:
Quinn said he is considering legislation that would allow for a temporary appointment to the Senate to fill the Obama vacancy until a special election could be held. That’s somewhere between his first position in support of a special election and his second position that he should make the appointment if Blagojevich resigns or is tossed out through impeachment proceedings in the legislature.
Why make a temporary appointment at all, then? The entire process could piggyback on municipal elections and finish by April. The seat could remain vacant that long — hell, it remained all but vacant for the previous two years while Obama ran for President — and that would avoid any hint of back-room deals of the kind favored by Blagojevich for this “f*****g valuable thing”.
It turns out Quinn has someone in mind for the spot — and it’s none other than the AG who wants Blagojevich declared politically incompetent by the state Supreme Court. Quinn wants Blagojevich’s job for a much longer time than as a succession after impeachment, and Madigan might be his toughest opponent in the primaries:
Appointing Madigan to the Senate could give Quinn a clearer shot in the 2010 race for governor, in which she is expected to be a strong candidate with the backing of her father.
As long as he has the interests of Illinois voters in mind, eh? Illinois needs a special election for the Senate seat just to get the fingers of Machine politics off of it. Afterwards, Illinois needs to clean house entirely, getting rid of their entrenched political interests and starting over. Calling this sewer “The Land of Lincoln” is a bad joke. If Illinois voters aren’t inclined to make the kind of necessary changes, can they change the license plates to read, “The Land of Capone”? It’s certainly a more accurate description.