Illinois must elect its U.S. senator

Democrats love to talk about how wonderful elections are -- and how they stand up for the disenfranchised voter.

But they're apparently having second thoughts about the efficacy of holding a special election to fill the Illinois' U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the election of Barack Obama to the presidency.

After U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald charged Gov. Rod Blagojevich with seeking to sell the seat to the highest bidder, it became clear the governor could not be allowed to make the Senate appointment.

At first Democrats and Republicans rallied behind Illinois' other Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's suggestion that a special election be held to fill the seat. Certainly that was fair and reasonable, but then Chicago Mayor Dick Daley and other top Democrats began to have second thoughts.

Blagojevich's stubbornnes in holding onto office, not to mention his other suspect corruptions, is beginning to take a toll on the Democratic Party's brand, especially in the Land of Lincoln.

In other words, the longer the Blagojevich unpleasantness drags on -- and it now looks like it might drag on forever -- the more vulnerable Democrats become to losing the seat to a Republican.

That, of course, would be intolerable. Democrats feel they can't risk losing another Senate seat. They only have a 16-seat majority now, with the possibility they may win one more in Minnesota. Consequently the new plan is to have Democratic Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn make the appointment -- except nothing can be found in the state's constitution which would allow that.

Besides, why trust Quinn to make an honest pick? He's a product of the same slimy machine politics that produced Blagojevich and other Illinois politicos, including a couple of Blago's gubernatorial predecessors, who have been sent to jail.

If Illinois pols can't get their act together to do what's obviously the right thing -- which is to hold an election to fill the seat -- then the state should go without representation in the Senate until 2010 when elections are scheduled to be held.

In wake of the Blagojevich and other recent Land of Lincoln scandals, it would be a travesty to let anyone make an appointment to the seat -- or for anyone to accept it.

The situation cries out for an election.

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