WASHINGTON--If former House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) who died Wednesday at the age of 82 did not get defeated in 1994, we may not be waiting for a verdict in the Rod Blagojevich trial today and Rahm Emanuel likely would not be White House Chief of Staff.
After Rostenkowski lost his seat--the fallout from a scandal that eventually sent him to prison--a one term Republican, Michael Patrick Flanagan was elected for a term from the Democratic fifth congressional district, anchored on Chicago's North Side. He lost a re-election bid to Rod Blagojevich, moving up from the Illinois State House. Blagojevich gave up his safe seat to run for governor; Emanuel ran and won for the open spot.
Emanuel on Wednesday remember Rostenkowski: "I was saddened to learn of Dan Rostenkowski's passing. He was a master of the House and a master of the art of legislation. He was a major part of legislation for a generation and he left a large imprint on American history.
"I called Dan a few weeks ago and we reminisced about national and local politics and shared our war stories from our times in Congress. In our last conversation, he was honest and upfront about his condition -- but he still had the same enthusiasm for politics and our country that I saw all the years I knew him," Emanuel said.