Replacing Congress – The Obama Administration

We seem to be unable to get enough of the election of Barack Obama. The media has been analyzing the type of presidency he will have, will he act Lincolnian and reach across the aisle to fill cabinet positions and will he be able to restore the country after 8 disastrous years.

Analysis is on-going over the Democratic swing in Congress (including the 3 Senatorial races yet to be decided in Alaska, Georgia and Minnesota).

What has not been talked about as much is who will step into the Congressional seats for the new administration. Illinois will be losing one Congressional seat as Rahm Emanuel becomes Obama’s Chief of Staff. This is in addition to the seat vacated by Senator Obama over the weekend (full text of Obama’s letter to the people of Illinois to follow).

Add to that the Delaware Senate seat soon to be vacated by Vice President-elect Joe Biden (still love saying this) and any elected officials selected by Obama for his cabinet. We know that New York Senator Hillary Clinton is among the names being considered for Secretary of State.

Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth

So who would replace Obama and Emanuel in Illinois? State law says that the governor will appoint a replacement to the Senate seat that is up for election in 2010. Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich has set up a panel that will vet the candidates.

The list includes – Representatives Jesse Jackson Jr., son of Rev. Jesse Jackson and Jan Schakowsky. If selected, this would vacate another Illinois congressional seat and the process would begin again. Also on the list are Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes, retiring state Senate President Emil Jones, state Senator Kwame Raoul, and Dan Seals, a marketing consultant.

My personal favorite is Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth who is a wounded Iraq War veteran. Duckworth is a decorated officer who lost both of her legs in Iraq. She would bring leadership and a passion for our troops to the Senate. She would be a spectacular choice to replace President-elect Obama.

On November 4th, Joe Biden was re-elected to a 7th term in the U.S. Senate. When Biden resigns his seat, it will be filled either by out-going two-term Governor Ruth Ann Minner or the in-coming Governor-elect Jack A. Markell. Both governors are Democrats and will be able appoint someone to fill the vacancy until a Special Election in 2010.

Beau Biden

Beau Biden

The name that is floating around and my personal choice is Joe Biden’s son, Beau.

Beau Biden (Joe Biden III) is the Attorney General of Delaware and is currently a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard serving in Iraq. The latter role is one of the obstacles in the process. According to military law, someone may not serve in elected office while serving in the military. Beau Biden has also indicated that he would prefer to win elected office rather than be appointed to it. He declined an appointment to Attorney General opting instead to run for the post.

Another option is Lt. Governor John Carney who lost the Democratic Party nomination for governor this year. He has already indicated an interest in the position as well as a desire to continue in the Senate beyond the 2010 special election.

Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel would be vacating his leadership in the House of Representatives to serve as Obama’s chief of staff. Blagojevich will have to set a special election to replace Emanuel. Rumors have circulated that Emanuel wants to serve as Obama’s chief of staff for just 2 years and then return to Congress.

It will be interesting to see who throws their hat into ring for this seat. A few names I have heard are former Emanuel aide, John Borovicka, Bill Dailey Jr. and Illinois state representative Sara Feigenholtz.

Finally, if Hillary Clinton is selected as Secretary of State or any other cabinet position, she will vacate her Senate seat. As a result, New York Governor David Paterson will have to select a replacement for Clinton until a Special Election in 2010 that would fill her seat for the final 2 years of her current term.

While I could sit here and wrack my brain over who the candidates are, I can really only come up with 2 suitable names. Actually, it is 2 people with only 1 suitable name: Kennedy. The leading choice is Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy. She is an attorney and an author who had endorsed Obama early in the campaign. Rumors have circulated that she may be selected for a post in Obama’s cabinet.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The other Kennedy is Robert Jr. Kennedy is an attorney and co-host of the Air America radio program, Ring of Fire. He had endorsed Hillary Clinton during the primaries. The seat Clinton current holds once belonged Kennedy’s father. He has 2 great political passions – the climate / environment and election integrity. Rumors have circulated that he is being looked at for a position on the Obama cabinet as well. Kennedy has said that the only way he would be interested in Clinton’s seat is if she became the president. I do believe that it would be fitting for RFK Jr. to hold the seat once held by his father.

As Obama’s administration takes shape over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see what seats / positions open up along the way.

Sources:

Illinois Governor Eyes Obama Replacement –  RollCall.com

Sara Feigenholz’s letter of interest in Emanuel’s seat – posted on the Daily Kos

BY PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA

Today, I am ending one journey to begin another. After serving the people of Illinois in the United States Senate — one of the highest honors and privileges of my life — I am stepping down as senator to prepare for the responsibilities I will assume as our nation’s next president. But I will never forget, and will forever be grateful, to the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible.

More than two decades ago, I arrived in Illinois as a young man eager to do my part in building a better America. On the South Side of Chicago, I worked with families who had lost jobs and lost hope when the local steel plant closed. It wasn’t easy, but we slowly rebuilt those neighborhoods one block at a time, and in the process I received the best education I ever had. It’s an education that led me to organize a voter registration project in Chicago, stand up for the rights of Illinois families as an attorney and eventually run for the Illinois state Senate.

It was in Springfield, in the heartland of America, where I saw all that is America converge — farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. It was there that I learned to disagree without being disagreeable; to seek compromise while holding fast to those principles that can never be compromised, and to always assume the best in people instead of the worst. Later, when I made the decision to run for the United States Senate, the core decency and generosity of the American people is exactly what I saw as I traveled across our great state — from Chicago to Cairo; from Decatur to Quincy.

I still remember the young woman in East St. Louis who had the grades, the drive and the will but not the money to go to college. I remember the young men and women I met at VFW halls across the state who serve our nation bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I will never forget the workers in Galesburg who faced the closing of a plant they had given their lives to, who wondered how they would provide health care to their sick children with no job and little savings.

Stories like these are why I came to Illinois all those years ago, and they will stay with me when I go to the White House in January. The challenges we face as a nation are now more numerous and difficult than when I first arrived in Chicago, but I have no doubt that we can meet them. For throughout my years in Illinois, I have heard hope as often as I have heard heartache. Where I have seen struggle, I have seen great strength. And in a state as broad and diverse in background and belief as any in our nation, I have found a spirit of unity and purpose that can steer us through the most troubled waters.

It was long ago that another son of Illinois left for Washington. A greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided, Abraham Lincoln, said of his home, “To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything.” Today, I feel the same, and like Lincoln, I ask for your support, your prayers, and for us to “confidently hope that all will yet be well.”

With your help, along with the service and sacrifice of Americans across the nation who are hungry for change and ready to bring it about, I have faith that all will in fact be well. And it is with that faith, and the high hopes I have for the enduring power of the American idea, that I offer the people of my beloved home a very affectionate thanks.

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