Editorial: Inept Illinois Governor Should Join Senate, Ridding State Of Him

This story was written by Editorial Board, Daily Eastern News
Change. It started as the word Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., stood for during his campaign to become president of the United States. Now it's the ideal that President-elect Obama will work toward during the next four years.

But change won't end with the election of the first African-American president or with Obama's plans to extend health care coverage in America or end the war in Iraq. Change will also come from the state of Illinois.

There are two glaring holes now open in the U.S. Senate with the election of Obama and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., as president and vice president. Illinois and Delaware must appoint one senator apiece to fill the void created by Obama and Biden's ascension to the White House.

Whoever fills Obama's senate seat will serve two years before either bowing out or running for the spot again in the 2010 election. Biden won his seat back Tuesday night and must hand the responsibility to Delaware's governor to fill the void until the next election.

The same will go for Sen. John Kerry and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts if Obama adds them to his cabinet.

The big question for Illinois, however, is which politician Gov. Rod Blagojevich will appoint to fill Obama's senate seat. There is one choice that will benefit both the people of Illinois and Blagojevich: He should appoint himself.

By looking out for No. 1, Blagojevich will finally be looking out for the state that elected him to lead --something he has failed to do in his nearly six years as governor.

Blagojevich will be incapable of inflicting any damage on the United States as senator No. 100. He will be the low man on the political totem pole instead of the one man who is in charge of leading an entire state.

If Blagojevich wanted to accomplish anything in the Senate, he would need the support of 50 other senators. While that seems possible considering the Democrats' majority hold on the Senate, Blagojevich has proved he can't work with his own party let alone cross the aisle to accomplish anything.

Blagojevich and Illinois' General Assembly have struggled to piece together a state budget the past two years, with two years ago being the biggest disaster. Illinois was without a financial plan until the end of August 2007 when the budget was needed on July 1 at the start of the fiscal year.

Sure, there are other candidates Blagojevich could choose to be Obama's replacement. Obama said he would want the senate seat to be filled by an African-American because of the lack of diversity in the U.S. Senate.

There are viable options in U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. and retiring Illinois Senate President Emil Jones. Jackson is a young, up-and-coming representative and Jones was Obama's mentor when the president-elect served in the General Assembly.

Blagojevich also has options in U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Luis Gutierrez and Tammy Duckworth, the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs director.

Blagojevich could even nominate potential gubernatorial foes Lisa Madigan and Alexi Giannoulias to further his bid for re-election in 2010. He could even go as far as shipping his archenemy, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, to Washington, D.C.

But Blagojevich should do what is best for the State of Illinois and remove himself from a position of state leadership.

Google search results for "Rod Blagojevich AND corrupt" send back 24,000 results. "Rod Blagojevich and Springfield" garners 759,000 Google search results, which seems awfully high for a governor that doesn't even live in the capital city.

Blagojevich could also use his own appointment as a chance to be "out of sight, outof mind." With convicted political friend Tony Rezko talking to Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Blagojevich might be feeling the heat of an indictment very soon. His finances and tax records could keep Fitzgerald busy.

Blagojevich appointing himself is a win-win situation for all parties involved. It sends him to Washington, D.C., a place he has aspired to go back to for years, and it rids the State of Illinois of a governor by the people but not for the people. Only then, when Blagojevich is out of office, can we start to repair the State of Illinois.

Change is going to come. Obama represents a fresh start for the United States. Blagojevich can further the change by doing what's best for Illinois: Leaving.