WASHINGTON--Abner Mikva, the gold standard for integrity in Illinois politics, told me Thursday night he is not interested in an appointment to replace President elect Barack Obama. And when there is an election to fill the Obama seat, Mikva said his candidate is Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
"No," said the 82-year-old Mikva when I asked him if he would accept an appointment in the wake of the Gov. Rod Blagojevich selling of a Senate seat scandal. "It's nice to be mentioned...Been there, done that. I am much too old to start a career in one of the few places I wouldn't be the oldest member."
The former Illinois House member, Washington based federal Appellate judge, Clinton White House counsel and current Hyde Park resident has been mentioned by some pundits as a potential "caretaker" appointment because of his impeccable credentials. Those advocating that route argue that would give Illinois a blue ribbon appointment until the next election.
Mikva used a Yiddish phrase when I was asking him about carving out another career in the Senate. "Shoyn genug," he said. "That's enough."
He went on to tout Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) for the seat. Schakowsky is mulling a Senate run. "I am a great supporter of Jan Schakowsky," said Mikva.
If there is a decision to go the caretaker route--and not appoint someone who would run--Mikva mentioned former comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch and Chicago attorney John Schmidt, a former Clinton Justice Department official.
No one knows at present how the Obama vacancy will be filled. Mikva helped out Illinois Attorney General as a special assistant attorney general in asking the Illinois Supreme Court to yank Blagojevich from office. That petition failed.
The embattled Blagojevich, facing impeachment and criminal charges, will not make an appointment according to his attorney, Ed Gensen. Blagojevich is accused of trying to auction off the Senate seat in a variety of pay-to-play schemes as well as other acts of public corruption.
Illinois Democrats backed off calls for a special election because: Blagojevich was not going to resign soon; the cost, and yes, the potential Democrats might lose the seat.
The appointment then will one day fall to Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, when he is governor.