Republicans in Illinois want a special election to fill Barack Obama’s empty Senate seat, and yesterday’s move by Democratic leadership in the state legislature to block a bill authorizing one has them seeing red. They produced a new ad pointing out the connections between Mike Madigan and Emil Jones to Rod Blagojevich and accuse them of stalling to protect their party’s lock on the position. They want Illinois voters to let the two legislative leaders know that current Illinois leadership can’t be trusted with an appointment:
This ad takes a better, more straightforward tack than the RNC efforts over the past week. The Blagojevich scandal may eventually get linked to Obama, more likely to his staff, but the GOP would be better advised not to sound that alarm until evidence appears of those connections. Today’s revelation about Eric Holder and his Blagojevich-Rezko connection might be an example of how this scandal will unfold, but it’s better to let it unfold naturally than to make accusations ahead of the facts.
In another development, the Illinois Supreme Court surprised no one by rejecting Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s attempts to have Blagojevich declared politically incompetent to exercise the duties of office:
The Illinois Supreme Court today rejected Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan’s attempt to have disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared unable to hold the office of Illinois chief executive, court officials said.
The high court, without comment, denied Madigan’s attempt to file a complaint with justices arguing Blagojevich’s fitness to serve. The court also rejected Madigan’s attempt for a temporary restraining order, aimed at preventing him from using state law to appoint a U.S. Senate replacement for President-elect Barack Obama. …
Justices, again without comment, also rejected a private petition seeking to remove Blagojevich from office for disability under the state constitution.
The lawsuit was a bad idea, except perhaps politically to give AG Madigan an opportunity to look busy. David Freddoso believes that Madigan wanted to avoid looking passive in the face of the biggest case of political corruption in decades. Since Madigan has aspirations to succeed Blagojevich (or Quinn, if impeached), she needed to show off for Illinois voters.
Rick Klein at ABC says that the burden shifts back to the legislature to deal with the crisis:
The ruling keeps the onus on the state legislature — which has just begun what could be long impeachment proceedings — to seek Blagojevich’s removal. In short, the easy way out for state Democrats has just been slammed shut.
No one seriously thought the Madigan lawsuit had a prayer of taking the burden off of the House, but Klein’s more right than at first blush. Blagojevich signaled strongly today that he would have to get carried out of the governor’s office, kicking and screaming all the way. Without a resignation, Blagojevich keeps all of the power of his office, including the power to appoint a replacement for Barack Obama. Nothing’s stopping Blagojevich from making an appointment, and nothing will until the legislature either impeaches him or changes the law for a special election.
Michael Madigan said earlier today than impeachment and removal could take months. Unless the legislature acts to call a special election, it could take that long to fill that Senate seat. Illinois Democrats can’t have it both ways — they have to call a special election or watch Blagojevich ruin someone’s career by appointing them to the post.