Friday, April 30, 2010

Hey, How About Rahm Emanuel For Senate in Illinois?

Not that far-fetched. The current Democrat candidate is damaged goods and it would be quite embarrassing to see Barack Obama's Senate seat fall into Republican hands after The Swimmer's seat went GOP in Massachusetts. I guess the current occupant of the seat isn't an option.
We're hearing that Team Obama is increasingly eager to throw the Democratic Senate candidate from Illinois, Alexi Giannoulias, under the bus and replace him with someone who can win. The news gets worse and worse for the former wonderboy of Illinois politics. Mr. Giannoulias's family bank, Broadway Bank, collapsed and was seized by federal regulators. Now there are allegations of bank fraud. No wonder Democrats in the state are hyperventilating.

Mr. Giannoulias lags behind Republican Mark Kirk in money and in the polls, though he still has the support of the senior senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin. But the White House wants the "Obama seat" to remain in Democratic hands. Mr. Giannoulias is unmistakably seen as damaged property.

One intriguing idea being considered: Force Mr. Giannoulias out of the race and replace him with . . . Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Emanuel is still popular in Illinois and there was a big push to get him handpicked as the Obama successor back in late 2008. Democrats have used the shaft-and-shift strategy before, as in New Jersey in 2002 when they dumped a walking wounded Bob Torricelli as their Senate candidate a few weeks before Election Day.

Republicans, of course, are perfectly happy with the current field. "We want Giannoulias to be the Democratic candidate," says Republican Illinois House member John Shimkus. "We hope he doesn't dive too much in the polls at this point." But he also adds: "Our biggest worry would be that they replace him with Lisa Madigan." Ms. Madigan, the state's attorney general and daughter of the long-time speaker of the Illinois House, has so far said "no" to constant entreaties to run for Senate. Mr. Kirk has told me: "Lisa is the one Democrat I would not want to run against."

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