Blagojevich Remains Silent Amid Cacophony
Friday, December 12, 2008
CHICAGO, Dec. 11 -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich remained silent and out of sight Thursday, a pariah in his own state, as the drama he created swirled ever faster around him.
Beyond the state office building where he reported for work, Democratic lawmakers vowed to impeach him if he does not soon quit.
Across town, the Illinois attorney general mulled a court battle to declare him unfit to serve, and President-elect Barack Obama said directly that it is time for Blagojevich to go.
In Washington, Senate Democrats called on him to resign to allow an early appointment of a Democratic successor for Obama's old seat while the national Republican Party offered its own solution.
"Everyone in our state is hopeful that the governor will resign or step aside," Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) said in an interview. "If he fails to do that, it will provoke an ordeal of impeachment. It will be an ordeal for him, his family and the people of Illinois."
Quinn, who has not spoken with Blagojevich since August 2007, would become governor if Blagojevich stepped down or were removed. Quinn would also inherit the authority to name Obama's successor, something four Illinois House members want to hasten.
Skeptical that Blagojevich -- charged Tuesday with two felony public corruption counts -- will resign, they pushed impeachment, writing to colleagues that a budget crisis and the U.S. Senate vacancy make this "the most extreme of circumstances."
The alternative is a special election, which would require legislation and Blagojevich's signature. As some Democrats see it, the election would delay the seating of an Obama successor and create a chance, however unlikely, for a Republican upset.
Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan declared Thursday that a special election would be the fairest way to replace Obama, because "voters should have the final word."
As the maneuvering intensified, Blagojevich gave no hint of his plans. Top statewide officeholders said they could not predict his next move.
State business requiring the governor's signature remained stalled as policymakers and staff members waited for word of Blagojevich's next move. If he does not resign by Monday, lawmakers will meet in an emergency session in Springfield to address impeachment and the need to fill the Senate seat.
State Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) has assigned attorneys to explore a request to the Illinois Supreme Court that Blagojevich be declared unfit to govern, temporarily or permanently.