Illinois Lawmakers Want Special US Senate Election
The heads of the Illinois state legislature said on Tuesday they will call the General Assembly into session to pass legislation on a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, cited federal political corruption charges against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has the power to select Obama's successor.
(Watch the accompanying video for the latest on the arrest of Illinois' governor on corruption charges.)
Madigan, who has repeatedly clashed with fellow-Democrat Blagojevich, said his chamber will meet on Monday.
"Today's events are shocking and disappointing," Madigan said in a statement. "It represents a new low for conduct by public officials. I believe in the rights of individuals to due process, but I also believe action must be taken to avoid certain functions of state government from being irrevocably tarnished by Gov. Blagojevich's continued exercise of power."
Jones said a special election would "help restore the confidence of the people of Illinois during this difficult time."
Obama, whose takes office on Jan. 20, left his Senate seat soon after winning the Nov. 4 presidential election.
Blagojevich was expected to name another Democrat to fill out the remaining two years of Obama's term.
A special election would open up the field to candidates from either party, a spokesman for Madigan said.