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December 03, 2008

Tea leaves on Obama's successor

Lynn Sweet scores a rare interview with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on his criteria for picking Barack Obama's successor in the Senate.

Gov. Blagojevich, in the most detailed interview to date on how he will fill the Senate seat formerly held by President-elect Barack Obama, told me Tuesday his replacement does not have to be an African-American and he is open to selecting someone who would serve only the two years left in the term.

Blagojevich is aiming to replace Obama -- who was the only African-American in the Senate -- before the new Senate is sworn in next month to give the new senator a leg up on seniority.

In a phone interview, I asked Blagojevich if he considered the vacancy an African-American seat. "I think it is a factor of a great deal of weight in my mind but it is not the only factor or the only consideration, and somebody could be the next Barack Obama who happens not to be the African-American, and that person would be hard not to make a U.S. senator."

Blagojevich also says that he will soon be meeting with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), who has been waging a public campaign for the appointment  Jackson is the only member of the delegation interested in the appointment that hasn’t yet met with the governor.