Blagojevich Verdict: Illinois Politicians Respond, Using Result As Political Fodder

And you thought the Blagojevich verdict was about Rod Blagojevich.

Since Tuesday afternoon, nearly everyone in Illinois politics has had something to say about the verdict in the former governor's corruption trial, with candidates up and down the ticket using the ruling as political fodder.

No one, perhaps, would have relished a guilty verdict more than Judy Baar Topinka, the Republican who lost handily to Rod Blagojevich in the 2006 Illinois governor's election. In a statement, Topinka, who is now running for Comptroller, made it known that she was by no means satisfied with the result.

"While I applaud the jury for convicting Rod Blagojevich of lying to the FBI, I am disappointed in today's announcement of a hung-jury on the remaining counts in the trial of Rod Blagojevich," Topinka wrote. "I believe the evidence of his guilt was clear and persuasive, however it is clear that at least some of the jurors were unable to reach the same conclusion.

"Justice will prevail; it will just take longer than many of us hoped."

Meanwhile, Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady had said earlier that he wouldn't "make a lot of political hay" out of the verdict. But when the day came, Brady made bales of it:

The entire case was a black eye for Illinois, but made even worse by the fact that [Gov.] Pat Quinn, [House Speaker] Mike Madigan and the Democrats stood by this man, supported his re-election and later denied the public the right to a special election for the U.S. Senate seat Blagojevich had tried to sell. The trial also showed that Blago's scheming was going on in the earliest days of his administration, and yet Quinn, Madigan and the Democrats were silent.

Those same Democrats were largely silent yesterday, as well. Governor Quinn, who served as Blagojevich's lieutenant governor and had previously defended the now-convicted ex-gov's integrity, said only that "You can be misled, and that can happen in life for anyone." But he defended his own record, saying, "I think the people of Illinois know they have the first honest governor in a long time."

And a spokesman for Madigan simply told Pantagraph, "The Legislature finished with the ex-governor with the impeachment. I don't see any other comment."

Continuing with the hay-making, Chairman Brady went after Alexi Giannoulias, the Democrat running for U.S. Senate, according to The Capitol Fax Blog. Of Blagojevich's legal fees, Brady said, "Rod should be worried. With Broadway Bank closed, I'm not really sure where he's going to find a bank willing to loan millions to a convicted felon."

Broadway Bank, owned by the Giannoulias family, was closed by the FDIC after mortgage defaults forced the bank into insolvency. The bank is also accused of making questionable loans to convicts such as Tony Rezko.

But the Giannoulias camp had an equally snappy response, going after his opponent in the Senate race, Republican Mark Kirk, who has repeatedly embellished elements of his military and personal resume.

"Today, the jury found Rod Blagojevich guilty for lying," the Giannoulias camp said, "and on November 2nd, the voters of Illinois will reject Mark Kirk for lying. The people of Illinois deserve leaders they can trust."

With a retrial imminent, and the verdict sure to be delivered much closer to the election, we can only imagine how the candidates will spin the next result in the unending Blago saga.