ILLINOIS SENATE UPDATE.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has given his longest and most detailed interview so far about who will replace Obama in the Senate to Lynn Sweet, but it just ends up making the picture less clear (for a roundup of some possible candidates see this piece by Adam Doster). First of all, Blago denies that he's ruled out a two-year placeholder appointment as Rep. Louis Gutierrez claimed last week, though he does say he'd prefer not to go that route. Also, he doesn't sound so keen on Jesse Jackson Jr.:

"He's got a right to do it," Blagojevich said, "and he obviously believes in himself as a candidate for the United States Senate and his public campaign is, you know, something he obviously believes appropriate and helpful, and all power to him."

The two will meet soon to discuss the appointment, however. And Blagojevich will certainly get a lot of heat if he doesn't pick a black person for the seat. Rich Miller at the Capitol Fax Blog has some choice quotes, including this one from the always-subtle Rep. Bobby Rush (read the whole post to get a feel for just how chaotic the situation is becoming):

Rush said it would be a “national disgrace” if Obama’s seat were not filled by an African American.

But, while Jackson Jr. is the most obvious choice if Blagojevich wants to pick a black candidate, there's also Rep. Danny Davis, who Blagojevich has dropped a few hints about. Davis wants the seat, but might have a hard time winning a full term. It would also be somewhat odd to replace the 47 year-old Obama with the 67 year-old Davis (JJ Jr. is 43). Of course, it could also be some other random person we've never heard of -- according to Miller, Blagojevich discussed 20 different names with Sen. Dick Durbin and Blagojevich has said he wants "the next Obama" (good luck with that Rod).

It seems to me that the safest thing for Blagojevich to do is appoint a black place-holder, and let everyone who wants the seat fight it out in a primary in 2010 (Davis and Jackson both seem to want to to serve for more than two years, but former State Senate President Emil Jones is thought to be interested in a two-year appointment). That would be the most democratic approach, and it wouldn't alienate any of the groups Blagojevich needs if he has any hope of getting reelected in 2010. On the other hand, as Miller points out, if Blagojevich had any idea what was good for him politically he wouldn't have an approval rating of 4 percent. Yes, 4 percent.

--Sam Boyd

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