Governor Rod Blagojevich has the responsibility to appoint the next senator from the State of Illinois. That person will fulfill Barack Obama's term for the next two years. Many names have been suggested and the announcement could come any day.
Jesse Jackson Jr. is the best candidate for the seat. He has served in Congress for 13 years and has become a seasoned, accomplished legislator. He has experience on the House Appropriations Committee, which funds virtually all domestic and international programs. Jackson has significant insight into world affairs. Voting is important to Congressman Jackson and he has one of the best voting records in Congress. In 13 years, he has missed voting only twice.
President-elect Obama could use Jackson's Washington talents. He is a coalition builder with a broad base of support including Democrats and Republicans, blue and white collar laborers, blacks, whites and Hispanics and the young and old. He is the co-author of the book, A More Perfect Union: Advancing New American Rights, that defines his political doctrine and he served on Obama's executive campaign team.
Should Jackson be appointed, he would be the youngest member of the Senate. He is a progressive leader and has received cheers from environmentalists, human rights groups, educators, health care providers, anti-war activists and women's groups. His mindset is right. His background is ripe for the time. He is a part of the changing of the generational guard and is in line with Obama's message of change.
He is a popular congressman ready for the Senate at this important time in history. If appointed, Jackson would be the only black in the United States Senate, as were Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama. It is important that the seat remain occupied by an African-American.
Another person being widely discussed for the post is the newly retired president of the Illinois Senate, Emil Jones, who has had an illustrious career in Illinois politics. He is often referenced as "The Godfather" to Barack Obama, for his advocacy of Obama's State Senate candidacy, which ultimately gave rise to his presidency. If Jones wants the seat, he will probably get it. It would be next to impossible for the governor to say "no" and for Obama not to give the nod. But it would be wonderful if President Obama appointed Jones to an ambassadorship instead.
The Chicago Sun Times suggested Frank Clark of ComEd. Clark is one of the best corporate executives in Chicago and he should remain at the helm of the corporation and as an energy advisor to the president.
Many stand the opportunity to join their fellow Illinoisans in Washington at the federal level. Obama's giant step has the potential to open many doors. Congressman Danny K. Davis has shown interest in Obama's Senate seat, but he could also serve in the area of Human Services. Arne Duncan could be the Secretary of Education and doctors Eric Whitaker, Terry Mason or David Schneider would be excellent choices for Surgeon General. State Senators Donne E. Trotter and James Meeks and Aldermen Sandi Jackson, Leslie Hairston and Willie Cochran would all make great congressmen. Tammy Duckworth would be an excellent replacement for Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who is leaving his congressional seat to become the chief of staff in the Obama Administration. As would Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, though he's said he will not run.
The election of President Obama will bring many into the ranks of public service, just as it was under President Kennedy. It is a brand new day with brand new faces in roles, seats and positions that were dreams only yesterday.
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