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The Fall of Blago: So What's Next?

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Dec 10, 2008 6:30PM


AP Photo/Mark Carlson

It's the day after and while Governor Rod Blagojevich gets back to work (we assume there were a lot of stilted phone conversations), will part of that include picking that new senator of ours, a large part of what got him arrested in the first place? The answer, it appears, is a resounding "No." Sun-Times politics guru Lynn Sweet - who we dug on MSNBC yesterday - says:

Blagojevich lost the ability to pick Obama's replacement. The leaders of the Illinois General Assembly will meet in special session next week to strip Blagojevich of his appointment power, and I bet they will do it with veto-proof majorities.

And if a brazen Blagojevich insists on selecting an Obama successor in the meantime -- who in their right mind would accept? -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will invoke a rarely used power that senators have to decide whom to seat.

"A different process to select a new senator must be put in place -- and that process should not involve Gov. Blagojevich," Reid said in a statement.

This is no surprise. Reid joins a growing list of politicians who are urging state legislature action in the senate seat fracas. Outgoing State Senate President Emil Jones and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin have already called on the legislature to pass a bill that would allow them to call a special election to select the replacement.

Even longer is the list of people who are calling on Blagojevich to resign. It's no surprise that the Chicago Tribune has published an editorial asking for his resignation.

This moment, though, shouldn't be all about politicians and laws. This moment should be about the serially cheated citizens of Illinois, people who pay their taxes and expect honest governance in return. They have to choose better officials. They have to demand more. They deserve more.

Right now, though, the state faces a financial crisis, a $2 billion budget shortfall and an abundance of difficult choices of what to fund and what to cut. Illinois needs a governor who can lead through this crisis. Rod Blagojevich is, more than before, the governor who cannot govern.

Makes sense coming from the paper that Blagojevich tried to freaking extort - one of the most mind-blowing aspects of this whole thing. In a huge blow to Blagojevich's chances, President-Elect Obama issued a statement asking Blago to resign. State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) and House Republican leader Tom Cross (Oswego) have both threatened impeachment charges and they're not alone. U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who just last week asked Blagojevich to make sure Obama's replacement was black, has called on the governor to resign, saying, "This guy, to be honest and frank, had a hard time governing before he was charged."

For an impeachment trial to take place, the State House has to have a majority supporting the trial. If that happens, the State Senate holds the trial and must have a two-thirds majority vote in favor of impeachment for the governor to be removed from office. If Blagojevich somehow manages to both dodge resigning and impeachment, attorney general Lisa Madigan "is prepared to invoke an obscure Illinois Supreme Court rule under which the state's seven justices could vote to oust a sitting governor deemed unfit for office." As the Sun-Times points out, the rules for such action are pretty vague, so it remains to be seen if such a threat is credible. One thing is for certain, though: the remnants of Blagojevich's political career isn't long for this world.