“How- How- How much did you say? $14,000? Well, I gotta check my records because I didn’t think it was that much. I didn’t have that much money to give to the governor.” — Roland Burris when asked if his political contributions to Gov. Blagojevich played any part in his appointment to the U.S. Senate
The political landscape in Illinois dipped further into the Twilight Zone when Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. The press conference alone was odd enough, with Blago introducing Burris, Burris fumbling his way through a Q&A, and, when all else failed, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago stepped in and took over the press conference.
It was perhaps the most surreal quarter-hour of political theater in the history of the great state of Illinois.
Every news report labels Blagojevich “embattled.” That’s an understatement. The governor long ago isolated himself and has had very few political friends in Illinois for several years. Adding to today’s drama is the exodus of William J. Quinlan as Blagojevich’s general counsel. Blago stands alone, and seems to like it that way.
But he sure expects favors in return – allegedly.
The governor’s announcement came less than an hour after U.S. Senate Democratic leadership issued a statement saying the Senate will not seat anyone Blagojevich chooses to fill Illinois’ vacant Senate post. The statement also is signed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who has repeatedly urged Blagojevich not to name a replacement for the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Secretary of State Jesse White even weighed in with a statement that he would not certify Burris.
There’s been a lot of banter in the media about the legal effect of both statements. Can the U.S. Senate Democratic leadership legally block the appointment? Does Jesse White’s refusal to certify Burris make a difference? Burris was insistent tonight on The Rachel Maddow Show that the appointment is legal. Many in the legal world seemed to support that argument.
But that doesn’t mean the U.S. Senate has to act any time soon. Harry Reid can effectively refuse to seat Burris, which can potentially delay the appointment for two years or more.
Add to the mix of voices today that of Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, who said he expects that Gov. Blagojevich will resign by February at the latest. If Burris has still not been seated by then, Quinn as acting governor can simply withdraw the appointment — perhaps.
The waters are muddier than the Fox River Valley after a flood.
Just another cold day in Blagoland.
Obama had no interest in “pay to play” politics with Blagojevich, according to the DoJ indictment:
ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the “financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, “the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.” Later in the phone call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that absent getting something back, ROD BLAGOJEVICH will not pick Senate Candidate 1.
HARRIS re-stated ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s thoughts that they should ask the President-elect for something for ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s financial security as well as maintain his political viability. HARRIS said they could work out a three-way deal with SEIU and the Presidentelect where SEIU could help the President-elect with ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s appointment of Senate Candidate 1 to the vacant Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign, and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future.
As if it was possible for anyone to be less popular than President Bush, a new Chicago Tribune poll puts Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s popularity at 13%.
The ratings are the lowest ever recorded for an elected politician in almost three decades of Tribune polls.
Blagojevich has a different opinion, considering himself a “great governor” who has “more to do.” But the overwhelming majority of voters asked responded with a resounding “no” when asked if Blago should run again.
Now, the Chicago Tribune is a Republican newspaper. The publisher freely admits that. But any way you slice it, this is bad news for Blago.
Overall, the survey of 500 registered likely voters conducted at the end of last week showed a mere 10 percent said they wanted Blagojevich re-elected in 2010, while three-fourths sahe survey also showed only 13 percent approved of Blagojevich’s job performance, while 71 percent disapproved. Blagojevich’s job approval rate is 5 percentage points lower than that of President George W. Bush, though the president’s disapproval rating is slightly higher.
The survey has an error margin of 4.4 percentage points.id they didn’t want him back for a third term.
On corruption, Blago’s merit almost disappears with that margin of error:
Only 8 percent of the state’s voters believe Blagojevich has lived up to his promise to end corruption in government—the hallmark of his initial election as governor in 2002 after the tenure of scandal-tarred Republican Gov. George Ryan. Three out of four Illinois voters said Blagojevich failed to keep his promise to end corruption in state hiring, contracts and appointments to state boards and commissions.
The poll found voter disapproval of Blagojevich to be even deeper than what Ryan faced during his final weeks in office as investigations swirled around him. In October 2002, a Tribune poll found 23 percent of voters approved of the job Ryan was doing as governor, while 61 percent disapproved. Ryan was convicted on federal corruption charges and is in prison.
Time for Rod to move back to Chicago.
Oh, wait. He never really went to Springfield, did he?
His intransigence knows no limits. The people of the State of Illinois are hurting. These things are understatements.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do.
Until the next election.
We’re stuck with Blago the Destroyer, the Governor-Who-Won’t.
This is a sad time to be from the State of Illinois. I have had a number of conversations with State Representatives and State Senators about the governor. All bewail and bemoan the fact that Governor Rod Blagojevich simply doesn’t care. He wouldn’t even consider such a silly thing as compromise. His “no-new-taxes” pledge is running Illinois into the ground. The Pledge means no school funding reform.
Blago doesn’t get it that you don’t understand.
After all, he pledged to not raise taxes when he first ran for governor. He won’t raise taxes. He won’t consider creative alternatives for relieving the property tax burden on Illinois residents. He won’t work to ensure that Illinois is no longer 48th in the nation on school funding. He won’t work for equity in school funding, so students at Bloom Trail High School can some day read history books in their library that post-date the Cold War.
He won’t listen no matter what you say. Remember, Blago doesn’t get it that you don’t understand.
Wow. Remember how we all had hope back then? Remember how we actually believed that a Democratic governor would make a difference to the people of Illinois? What were we thinking?
Blago doesn’t care. He’s concerned about what might come next, what office he might run for next, his next fund raiser. School funding reform is not a real concern. Why should he care that Illinois still ranks near last in school funding? Why should he care that school districts like Bloom and Ford Heights have next to nothing while Naperville thrives?
Blago cares about his image. Haircuts are important as well. Must look good for the cameras, after all. But he is absolutely incompetent when it comes to critical thought, struggling to find real solutions to real-world problems and issues.
Lt. Governor Pat Quinn supports recall legislation, saying that Gov. Blago would certainly be a target if this legislation was passed. Blago says he supports the legislation, but his House floor leader, oddly, does not. From the Chicago Tribune:
Though Blagojevich publicly has embraced the concept of recall, his House floor leader, Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville), angrily denounced the bill. Also opposed are Comptroller Dan Hynes and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
Quinn, a Democrat who said he has backed such an amendment for three decades, called the measure an important way to give power to citizens and to keep elected officials accountable.
According to Quinn, based on the number of votes cast for governor in 2006, it would take 418,401 signatures to put a gubernatorial recall on the ballot.
It may be an exercise in futility, but I’m certain signatures could be found in downstate Illinois.
And in the south suburbs of Chicago, where property taxes are choking businesses and home owners.
Blago really doesn’t get it.
During the last election, I attended a rally for the governor. As he passed by, I shook his hand and told him, “Governor, you have to do something about property taxes and school funding reform. Our residents are desperate.”
He gave me the same smirk in the photo above.
“Sure,” he said.
Then he walked away.
(Photo: Gov. Rod Blagojevich at the 2005 Martin Luther King Celebration in Matteson, IL, courtesy eNewsPF.com)