‘I will fight. I will fight. I will fight.” So proclaimed our Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his only official press conference since being arrested. The charges against him are for criminal conspiracy, which includes his alleged attempt to sell the vacant U.S. Senate seat as well as getting campaign contributions in exchange for other official actions.
Now I don’t know if Gov. Blagojevich’s is the fight of someone who is innocent or the fight coming out of someone who is guilty as heck and desperate to draw attention away from the guilt. But what I do know is that we have a vacant senate seat that needs to be filled-a seat that, if filled before Congress reconvenes in January, would give our senator seniority over those who are seated later. And in the U.S. Congress, seniority matters.
Now Illinois is not the only state where the governor gets to fill the vacant senate seat. The governor of Delaware has already filled the vacant senate seat of Joe Biden. The governor of New York is soon to appoint a replacement to the senate seat of Hillary Clinton. So why can’t Gov. Blagojevich still appoint a replacement for the vacant senate seat of Barack Obama? Some people are claiming the arrest of Gov. Blagojevich has tainted the process. Some are even calling for a special election that could cost us taxpayers 35 or more millions of dollars.
I for one still feel that Gov. Blagojevich should get to appoint the replacement senator even if he/she enters under a cloud of controversy. The controversy shouldn’t be in who Gov. Blagojevich appoints to the seat. The controversy is how that decision is made.
That’s where I’d like to offer a suggestion: Let’s just pull the name out of a hat. Because in truth, whenever someone has been appointed to a position, none of us have ever known the logic or illogic behind that decision.
For example, Mayor Daley has appointed a number of aldermen to replace other aldermen who have gone to jail in scandal after scandal. Even thought those individuals affected us a lot more than a replacement for a senator, many of us have gone along with the process with very few complaints. There has never been any transparency in the mayor’s choices. And had Gov. Blagojevich not gotten arrested, there wouldn’t have been any transparency in his process either.
So let’s make the senate seat-which was available “for sale” to the highest fundraiser for the governor-a “for sale” fundraiser for the state of Illinois in the form of a raffle ticket. Let those who want the seat purchase blocks of tickets and then the governor can pull the winner’s raffle ticket out of a hat on live TV. Those individuals who were willing to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Blagojevich’s campaign fund can raise the same hundreds of thousands of dollars for raffle tickets for their favorite candidate.
Heck, even some of us who want our own candidate to be the one to get the seat can contribute to their chance by purchasing tickets for them. Forget the instant tickets for the lottery. We can go and purchase $10 worth of Jesse Jackson Jr. tickets, $5 worth of Tammy Duckworth, $20 worth of Danny K. Davis tickets, etc.
Whenever someone buys a raffle ticket for their candidate, the proceeds from that purchase can go into the state’s coffers. The state can make money on the deal and the selection of the replacement will be honest and open to the public. And for once voters can finally benefit in the “pay to play” world of Illinois politics!
Getting it straight
P.S.: In last week’s column, a well-meaning editor misinterpreted a sentence which should have said that ” the ministers were oblivious to the rest of us being played for fools,” not that the ministers themselves were being played for fools.