Sunday, December 21, 2008

Does Illinois Governor Blagojevich Have the Upper Hand?

According to Willie Brown at SFGate (San Francisco Chronicle), the political outlook for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich may be looking better. Brown received an interesting phone call from Blagojevich the other day.

Willie Brown isn’t betting on Blagojevich stepping aside anytime soon, and Brown believes that Blagojevich’s “hand is getting stronger by the day.”

Blagojevich called Brown because Brown had raised “questions about the timing and manner of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's decision to charge him over what appears to be little more than loose conversations he had with his staff.”

Brown believes that Blagojevich will hang tough because the Democrats are not going to strip him of his power to appoint someone to replace Obama. Regardless of the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he wouldn't seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich, a costly special election wouldn’t bode well for Democrats or for Obama.

But if the governor appoints someone of impeccable credentials - say, a university president or Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's brother Bill, who used to be Bill Clinton's commerce secretary - who's going to say "no"?

The Democrats are “deathly afraid that with all these corruption stories swirling around,” a special election would allow a “do-gooder Republican” to win the seat and “damage the Democrats' chances of holding a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.”

Brown won’t reveal the details of his conversation with Blagojevich but he hints that there’s much more to the story:

I can't go into details, but my impression is that the whole mess started because the governor had been considering appointing a political rival, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to the Senate so she wouldn't be able to run against him when he went up for re-election in 2010.

Apparently, Obama's people weren't happy about the idea of Madigan coming to Washington, and there were some pretty heated conversations between Blagojevich and Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, which I understand will burn your ears off.

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