IL-Sen: Are the Floodgates Opening?

When former Commerce Secretary William Daley pulled the plug on his never-really-began Senate campaign in Illinois, it was starting to look like everyone was coalescing around state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (with Roland Burris providing an amusing footnote to Giannoulias’s victory lap). All of a sudden, though, the race is back in the spotlight (maybe people are no longer worried that Burris and his $845 could sneak through the primary as a spoiler).

Rep. Jan Schakowsky has seemed reluctant to give up her safe House seat and junior leadership role for a run at the Senate, but the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that’s she revving up her fundraising machine. She says she’ll announce by June 8 whether or not she’s running for Senate (although one of her erstwhile potential opponents, Mark Kirk, has had no compunctions about disregarding his own timeline). In the meantime, she has a star-studded fundraiser on tap:

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), mulling a Senate run, throws her annual “women’s power lunch” fundraiser Monday at the Hyatt Regency with marquee speakers White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Director of Public Liaison Tina Tchen and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Jarrett’s an interesting get, as she’s perhaps the pre-eminent Friend of Barack (as seen by her almost-selection as Commerce Secretary). One of Giannoulias’s electoral strengths is his close connections to Obama’s inner circle… but then, Schakowsky was also one of Obama’s biggest congressional backers during the 2008 primaries, so she may be entitled to some payback too.

But an even heavier heavyweight than Schakowsky may be looming in the distance in the Senate primary: Illinois AG Lisa Madigan. While she had previously explicitly ruled out a Senate run and had done little to hide her gubernatorial ambitions, Cillizza is now reporting that she’s at least reconsidering. While a recent PPP poll showed Madigan beating incumbent governor Pat Quinn by a healthy margin in a Dem primary, he still has high approval ratings, and an open Senate race might be more of a sure thing for her (PPP also showed her dominating that field as well). So, the rethink makes sense, although which ever route she takes, she’s poised to dominate.

On top of all that, Chris Kennedy (never before elected, but a big wheel in Chicago’s commercial real estate world and, as son of RFK, possessor of that magical last name) has been privately making a splash as he “explores” the race, to the extent that Obama henchman Rahm Emanuel has been reportedly talking him up as potentially the strongest candidate. What tangled webs we weave…

13 thoughts on “IL-Sen: Are the Floodgates Opening?”

  1. I wouldn’t read too much into Jarrett being in attendance. Madigan is more interesting. Maybe Kirk has heard something similar which is delaying his plans.

  2. Schakowsky, or Giannoulias, or Madigan?  I mean, I would reluctantly accept an argument that he could be strong candidate, but stronger than the other three?  Really?

    Is it just that Rahm prefers the more “electable” candidate no matter what, and in a potential off-year for Dems, a cypher-candidate like Kennedy could hide from past liberalism better than the other three?  I try not to hate on Rahm, but I don’t see the argument here.

  3. Does Schakowsky being a “friend of Jarrett” automatically make you a FOB?

    I’d guess Giannoulias’s FOB status trumps Schakowsky.

    “Revving up her fundraising machine” is a huge tell that Schakowsky’s going for the Senate job.

    She is so safe in IL-09 that she barely needs to fund raise at all for re-election, but only for her leadership “dues”.  

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