Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama Sen. resignation, Biden mum; Stevens' pledge

President-elect Barack Obama will step down as the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois.

Governor Rod Blagojevich will have the authority to replace him with an interim successor to serve out the remaining two years of Obama's term.

John McCormick and Rick Pearson at the Chicago Tribune added the following observations this afternoon:
The decision adds to the pressure on Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat, who under state law has the sole responsibility for naming a successor to Obama, the only African-American in the Senate.

I would concur with this sentiment. African-Americans form twelve percent of our nation's population; it is appropriate to seek out an African-American replacement for Obama.
McCormick & Pearson's speculation (11/6) of possible replacements:

• U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who has established himself admirably in the House.
•Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, whose popularity and job performance make her a lethal threat to Blagojevich in 2010.
• State Comptroller Dan Hynes, a sure hand who wants to be Illinois' next governor.
• Paul Vallas, whose background in public finance, education and other policy realms qualifies him for a Senate seat.

I've omitted Obama confidente Valerie Jarrett. The businesswoman has said that she is not interested in the position, according to sources close to the President-elect.

Delaware Senator Joe Biden must also resign. Delaware law stipulates that when a senator resigns, the governor selects a successor, who serves until the next election, which will be in 2010, as in Obama's case.
However, Biden has made no announcement regarding his resignation --as of 6:20 PM EST.
Delaware's new governor, Jack Markell, is a Democrat, so the seat will remain in Democratic hands. Kenneth Walsh in U.S. News and World Report on November 11 speculated that Biden's son, Beau, stands a good chance of getting the appointment. However, the younger Biden, the state's attorney general, is performing National Guard duty in Iraq. So, a bit of delay will ensue, given, at least, transportation logistics.
Sen. Ted Stevens still pledges to hold onto his seat. On the vice presidential campaign trail Gov. Sarah Palin said that he should resign. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) also urged Stevens to resign.
The tide of the slow vote count has changed. Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich now leads Stevens, by 814 votes, per, at 6:00 PM. This figure does not clearly resolve the situation. Thousands of ballots remain to be counted. The gripping drama over the partisan fate of this Senate seat will continue until the conclusion of ballot counting on Tuesday.
If Stevens prevails, the drama could drag out. As PR Watch notes, he has been indicted --not convicted-- of felonies. Expulsion from the senate would require some senate cooperation: a vote by 2/3 of the senate is required to expell him.
Gov. Palin would then appoint a successor. Under Alaska law, the interim replacement would hold the seat on a very temporary basis: a special election must be held 90 days after the appointment of the interim replacement. And Palin has "sounded open" --according to The Hill-- to running for the seat herself.
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SO, in contrast to the Obama and Biden departures, the Stevens/ Alaska story offers potential suspense. As I noted earlier, Chambliss will probably inherit the Libertarian third party candidate's votes. --No drama in Georgia. Fianlly, in Minnesota, the Norm Coleman-Al Franken recount drama proceeds slowly . . . .

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