Rep. Jan Schakowsky will run for the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama should that seat ultimately come to a special election, her office confirmed to the Huffington Post.
Schakowsky, a highly-respected voice on foreign policy and a well-regarded progressive Democrat, is one of the first (if not the first) Illinois politician to officially declare her candidacy for the open seat. Obama's successor was initially to be decided by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appointment. But in light of accusations that the governor was auctioning off the post to the highest bidder, the state is aiming to pass legislation that would allow voters to determine the replacement.
"Rep. Schakowsky does plan to run for the Senate seat if there is a special election," said Cathy Hurwit, the congresswoman's chief of staff.
News that Schakowsky would run for the seat was broken by Jason Rosenbaum, who reported that at a Washington awards ceremony Wednesday night, the congresswoman announced the creation of an organizing committee for her "Senate race."
"And a basket for donations will follow right behind," she said.
Schakowsky is widely considered one of the most liberal members of the House of Representatives. She was a cosponsor of a resolution seeking articles of impeachment against vice president Dick Cheney and was one of the most outspoken critics of the Iraq War. She was also an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama's candidacy, both for Senate in 2004 and president in 2008.
Schakowsky is not likely to be the lone national Democrat to throw her hat in the special election ring. During a press conference pleading his non-involvement in the Blagojevich pay-for-play scheme, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. repeated his desire to take over Obama's Senate seat, and gave every indication that he, too, will run for the post.
The election, if the Illinois State Senate can override Blagojevich's objection, could occur within the next few weeks. Until that legislation is finalized, Blagojevich could make an 11th-hour appointment. But the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. Senate has indicated that it would use its constitutional authority to reject anyone tapped by the embattled governor.