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June 18, 2009

Obama staying out of Illinois Senate primary

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan will have to win a Senate primary without any assistance from the White House, according to comments this afternoon from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs is denying suggestions that President Barack Obama is trying to convince Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to run for his old U.S. Senate seat instead of governor.

“The president is not going to pick a candidate in the Illinois Senate race,” Gibbs told reporters during today's White House briefing.

“The president has a very long relationship with the attorney general, dating back to their time in the state Senate,” he said. “She’d be a terrific candidate, but we are not going to get involved in picking a candidate in Illinois.”

Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said her boss on Friday met at the White House with Obama and two of his top advisors ---White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett--- to discuss the U.S. Senate seat. Jarrett, ironically, had once been viewed as Obama’s preferred choice to replace him in the Senate by the team of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who got to pick Obama's successor late last year.

“She is weighing her options and trying to determine how she can best serve the public,” Ziegler said of Lisa Madigan. “Talking to the president is an important part of that decision-making process.”...

“I don’t control the DSCC,” Gibbs said. “We’re not picking a candidate. We’re not going to endorse in this race.”