Now that Senators Obama, Biden & Clinton are going to the White House, who will replace them in the Senate?
Barack Obama has already resigned his seat; his replacement will be named by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is up for re-election in 2010 and–despite his myriad ethical problems–is hoping to get re-elected.
Governor Blagojevich is unpredictable. Nobody really has a good grasp on who he will appoint or why–he could use the appointment to curry favor with a key group necessary to his re-election, he could use the appointment to boost a key ally, or he could use it to neutralize one of his likely primary opponents.
Some names that have been floated are Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Danny Davis, Rep. Melissa Bean, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones, and Illinois’ Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.
Depending on when he resigns his seat, Joe Biden’s replacement will either be named by outgoing Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) or incoming Governor Jack Markell (D).
It’s widely assumed that Biden wants his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, to replace him. But the younger Biden is a JAG who has been deployed to Iraq for about a year, making it impossible for him to fill the vacancy now.
Therefore, rumor has it that Biden is looking for a caretaker to hold the seat until a special election can be held in 2010, which would allow the younger Biden to run.
One name that has been floated is outgoing Lieutenant Governor Jack Carney, who lost to Markell in the Gubernatorial primary. But there’s a chance Carney might not want to leave in 2010, making him a risky choice if Biden just wants a caretaker.
Secretary of State Harriet Smith Windsor has also been mentioned; she might be more favorable to the elder Biden considering that:
She’s in her late 60s, a loyal ally of Gov. Minner, and unlikely to want a long career in the US Senate.
If Clinton becomes Secretary of State (which is likely) her seat will also open up. Governor David Paterson–up for re-election in 2010–will replace her, and he will have an embarrassment of riches to choose from.
The current front-runner appears to be Rep. Nydia Velazquez; Rep. Brian Higgins and Rep. Steve Israel have also been mentioned, along with Rep. Nita Lowey (who was widely considered the front-runner for the seat before Clinton jumped into the race in 2000). Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Louise Slaughter and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo have also been mentioned.