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November 12, 2008

Who will be Obama's successor?

Make sure to check out Roger Simon’s column today listing the possible successors Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) might appoint to replace Barack Obama in the Senate.

An additional factor to consider is Blagojevich’s immense unpopularity throughout Illinois. Only 13 percent of Illinois voters approve of his performance, according to an October poll from the Chicago Tribune. He currently holds the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country. An appointment from Blagojevich to fill the remaining two years of Obama’s term would be a political touch of death.

Indeed, the Blagojevich connection could hurt the political standing of Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who serves as the governor’s director of veterans’ affairs. Otherwise, her biography as an Asian-American woman who lost both of her legs in combat during the Iraq war would be compelling for a statewide candidate.

If Blagojevich’s main concern was making sure Democrats could hold the seat after the 2010 elections, it would make sense for him to appoint a placeholder like Emil Jones, the African-American president of the Illinois Senate.Jones has no aspirations to run for statewide office himself, and Illinois voters could then choose their next nominee in a Democratic primary.

It’s hard to see a member like Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) win the appointment; as an outspoken liberal from the Evanston area, she would have little appeal to a more conservative statewide electorate if she chose to run in 2010.

A wild-card: Democrat Dan Seals, a highly-touted Congressional recruit who came up short twice to Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in a suburban Chicago district. Like Obama, Seals is an African-American candidate who ran a post-racial campaign appealing to white voters in an affluent North Shore district. But he has no elected experience, and for him to jump over other more seasoned officials would rub some Illinois pols the wrong way.