Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Blago Wanted Cabinet Spot, Any Spot, For Senate Seat

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Blago Wanted Cabinet Spot, Any Spot, For Senate Seat

The week of Barack Obama's election, Rod Blagojevich was feeling put upon and left out. 

The feds were nipping at his heels and Mike Madigan was threatening impeachment in the house. 

When he learned that Barack Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett to replace him in the Senate or maybe give her a cabinet job, the governor saw it has a ticket out of Illinois to his own spot in the new administration.

"So they're willing to give her a cabinet post," he said.  "So if that's the case, give me the cabinet spot, and give her ... we'll give her the senate."

The administration job was not the only one Blagojevich was hoping to snare.

On the tapes he speculates about resigning the governorship to head up a charity like the American Red Cross or the United Way.

"The Salvation Army?" he says.  "Oh that'd be huge...  But do you have to wear a uniform?  Forget that!"

He wants Health and Human Services, and tells Harris he will sell it that he and Dr. Eric Whttaker will go to Washington and help advance the Obama health care agenda. 

Chief of staff John Harris suggests he may be better suited as the head of the Service Employees Union's national political arm “Change to Win.” Blagojevich loves that idea, believing it gives him a new job while preserving political viability for a possible White House run in 2016. He says he will point out to them that Mike Madigan is making his life miserable, and that Illinois government would remain at a stalemate as long as he remains as governor.

One tape reveals that Blagojevich and Harris planned to leak Lisa Madigan's name to an area newspaper as a potential senate candidate in order to up his leverage with the Service Union and push the message that Mike Madigan is standing in his way.

"I'm the only one fighting this guy," the governor tells Harris about Madigan. "The only one who takes him on including the mayor!"

At one point, he compares himself to Richard Nixon, victorious in a second term, but doomed by the forces that refuse to let him move forward.

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