Will Tammy Duckworth Replace Barack Obama in the Senate?

Will Tammy Duckworth be Obamas replacement?

Will Tammy Duckworth be Obama's replacement?

This Sunday, the junior United States Senator from Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama, is resigning his seat.

Seems he got a new job a few weeks ago.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has no shortage of possible replacements for Obama.

The smart money is on Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr as the winner in this game of Congressional musical chairs.   Blagojevich’s decision may be predicated upon whether he wants to run for reelection in 2010.

In assessing who Blagojevich might appoint to the Senate should Obama be elected president, much depends on whether or not he plans to run for a third term.

The thinking goes that if Blagojevich does decide to run again, he will make a pick that will strengthen his hand for what will almost certainly be a Democratic primary fight between himself and at least one other prominent statewide elected official. (Perhaps state Attorney General Lisa Madigan?)

That could lead Blagojevich to pick an African-American for the post, hoping to convince black voters
— a crucial voting bloc in a Democratic primary — that he is their candidate.

Obama has stayed above the fray and not thrown his support behind any of the possible replacements. It’s Blagojevich’s call to make and he doesn’t have to consider whom the president-elect might or might not want to
see as his successor. Still, it’s hard to believe if he does decide to run for a third term, with all the other problems he has, Blagojevich would want to tick off the newly-crowned head of the Democratic Party.

That’s why despite the fact that many may think Jackson is a shoo-in because Blagojevich won’t want to tick off Black voters by not appointing one Black man to replace another, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he went
an entirely different direction.

Is it just a happy coincidence that President-elect Obama chose to be photographed with Tammy Duckworth, the head of Illinois Veterans Affairs Department and not coincidentally, one of the front-runners to replace him?

The President-elect and his possible replacement lay a wreath during Veterans Day.

The President-elect and his possible replacement lay a wreath during Veterans Day.

Her Wikipedia entry makes for compelling reading.

Ladda “Tammy” Duckworth (born 1968) is the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.Iraq War veteran whose severe combat wounds cost her both of her legs and damaged her right arm. She continues to serve as a Major in the Illinois Army National Guard and is married to Major Bryan W. Bowlsbey who is also an Iraq War Veteran and serves in the Illinois Army National Guard as a signal She is an officer.

In the 2006 election, Duckworth was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives seat for the sixth district of Illinois which was being vacated by long-time Representative Henry Hyde. Duckworth lost to her opponent, Representative Peter Roskam, by 2% of the vote. On August 27, 2008, she spoke at the Democratic National Convention in support of President-Elect Barack Obama.

Duckworth lost both of her legs] on November 12, 2004, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents.

The explosion “almost completely destroyed her right arm, breaking it in three places and tearing tissue from the back side of it.” Duckworth received a Purple Heart on December 3 and was promoted to Major on December 21 at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she was presented with an Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal.

Duckworth was fitted for prosthetics and is now fully mobile. She helped establish the Intrepid Foundation and is involved in its fundraising to build a rehabilitation center for other injured veterans, and has been critical of the administration of President George W. Bush for its provision of veterans’ care.

Reading Duckworth’s biography, she comes off as an almost perfect replacement. There would be some grumbling and perhaps some loud grumbles that Jackson got screwed over, but at 43, he’s still a young man. Despite Jackson’s experience in Congress, I think Duckworth might be the better choice. If the Democrats want to hold Obama’s seat in 2010 when his term ends, Blagojevich will have to pick someone who can win it on their own. It’s one thing to win a seat in the House, but to get in the Senate you have to win the entire state. As a double amputee, Iraq war veteran, Duckworth just might have the more compelling story to sell.

Every candidate has some baggage, but Jackson Jr. has the considerable weight of his famous father, Jesse Jackson Sr., to carry along.  In a statewide race, all the sins of the elder Jackson would be dredged up and used against the son.

Does Jackson Sr. help or hurt Jackson Jrs chances of replacing Obama?

Does Jackson Sr. help or hurt Jackson Jr's chances of replacing Obama?

At the very least in Obama’s “post-racial” America,  choosing a woman over a Black man, makes the case that color wasn’t the primary criteria in choosing Obama’s replacement.

Jackson Jr. would be a great pick and I were placing bets, I wouldn’t bet against him getting the nod.  But it’s not a stone-cold lock by any means.

Despite being the first Black man to be elected president, Obama never ran as “the Black candidate.”  Along those same lines,  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if quietly he was pulling for Duckworth.