No Senator Schakowsky

Leaves field to rich white boys

By Steve Rhodes
|  Monday, Jun 8, 2009  |  Updated 8:30 AM CDT
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No Senator Schakowsky

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Wanted the appointment, but not the campaign.

North Side congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's decision - to be announced today - that she will not seek the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Roland Burris is (seemingly) at its heart about money and in effect about race and gender.

It's also a shocking turnaround amidst the continuing fallout of the Rod Blagojevich scandals.

Schakowsky's aggressive campaigning for the appointment to replace Barack Obama before Blagojevich was arrested and all bets were off was second only to that of fellow congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Actually running for a seat is different than getting named to it, though.

For one thing, it's awfully expensive.

"In a statement to be released today, Schakowsky, an Evanston resident first elected to Congress in 1998, said the time requirements to raise the millions of dollars need to run in the Senate contest would have turned her into 'a telemarketer five to six hours each day'," Lynn Sweet reports.

Even more so with wealthy scions Alexi Giannoulias and Chris Kennedy in the race; their millions are enough to scare away opponents instead of having to actually beat them.

Which raises the specter of two rich white men competing for the Democratic nomination to replace a seat currently held by the only African American in the Senate. Roland Burris is a happy man today, though it's likely another African American will emerge to send Burris into that gentle good night.

Lisa Madigan isn't likely to make the run, so Cheryle Jackson's stock just went up two-fold.

And Republicans could quite ironically be licking their chops at the prospect of running a Main Street candidate against Giannoulias or Kennedy - though they'd undoubtedly rather have a millionaire of their own.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review. He covered politics for Chicago magazine for six years.

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