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Illinois Governor To Appoint Obama's Successor

This story was written by Chris Davies, The Daily Vidette


Barring any major Election Day scandal or recount of votes, America will know its next president on Nov. 5. And no matter which candidate wins, there will be an open seat to fill in the United States Senate.

If Barack Obama is elected, the decision of which individual will fill that spot is left entirely up to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"According to the U.S. Constitution, a vacancy, no matter how it happens, will be filled by the governor of the state and he has to consult with no one while making the decision," Robert Bradley, a Illinois State University politics and government professor, said.

There have been a handful of names discussed as possible candidates to replace the junior senator. Bradley named Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and even Blagojevich himself as potential replacements.

Senior elementary education major Kay Uy is a bit concerned about Blagojevich having all the power to choose a replacement.

"Obama is trying to distance himself from the Illinois government, so Blagojevich choosing his replacement doesn't make sense. If he appoints himself that would just be corrupt and full of nepotism," she said.

One candidate is standing out more than others, according to Bradley. That person is Director of the Illinois Veterans Affairs Department Tammy Duckworth.

While at the Democratic National Convention, Governor Blagojevich officially sponsored a reception for Duckworth, leading Bradley to believe she is the front-runner for the senate position.

"[Duckworth] is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Bradley said.

Duckworth is a major in the Illinois National Guard and a veteran of the Iraq War. She has been in service since 1992 and has earned the Purple Heart, Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal for her actions while in the armed forces.

In 2006 she ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the sixth district of Illinois, losing by a slim margin to Peter Roskam. On Nov. 21, 2006, Blagojevich appointed her to her current position within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Should Obama be elected, whoever is granted the senate seat will earn at least one thing from his or her two years of service, according to Bradley.

"This appointment would make that person an incumbent, which in almost every election is a significant advantage to have. It certainly helps reelection chances," he said.