Governor Pritzker cannot overlook Raja’s readiness to defend seat with $8.4 million in FEC account
Yesterday, POLITICO “Illinois Playbook” ran a feature on the likely prospect Illinois’ junior U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth will be appointed to a cabinet position in a possible Joe Biden administration.
Per both Cal’s article on McHenry County Blog this morning, and yesterday’s POLITICO, in the event of a U.S. Senate vacancy, Governor J.B. Pritzker would appoint a replacement for Duckworth’s unexpired term who will face election in the next General Election in 2022 to keep the seat.
Like we saw with the Barack Obama U.S. Senate vacancy for the same seat, both the special U.S. Senate election and the regular term (Duckworth’s current term expires in 2022) will be on the same ballot.
Back in early August, the Chicago Tribune‘s Eric Zorn started the speculation of who would backfill Duckworth when she was being considered by Joe Biden to be his running mate:
“… if Biden does pick Duckworth…for a position in his cabinet? Secretary of Veterans Affairs or Secretary of Defense seem possible given her service bona fides.”Eric Zorn, “Who would Gov. Pritzker choose to fill Tammy Duckworth’s Senate seat if she becomes VP?”, Chicago Tribune 8/7/20
In addition to the above cabinet secretaries, I would add Homeland Security secretary to Duckworth’s potential landing point in a Biden cabinet.
Back in August, Zorn did an informal social media polling and came up with 3 women’s names, including Democratic Congresswomen Robin Kelly (IL-02) and Lauren Underwood (IL-14).
Unlike Zorn, I don’t believe Governor Pritzker will limit his choices of successors to only women of color, so looking at the 12 Democrats who appear to be returning to the U.S. House next year through reelection who are of color and under the age of 65, my short list is down to 4 people:
- Robin Kelly
- Lauren Underwood
- Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04)
- Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08)
While doubtful Governor Pritzker will listen to me, we know Pritzker likes to “trust the science”, and economics points to Raja Krishnamoorthi, specifically the $8.4 million Raja has raised in his first 2 terms representing the suburban 8th congressional district, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.
I’ll go into some of Raja’s other positives, but in my honest opinion, the governor cannot, knowing a mid-term congressional election cycle is unkind to the party in the White House, ignore Raja’s ability to raise money, especially in an election cycle in 2020 where he faced no Republican opponent.
But why the others will likely not be appointed if it was my decision to appoint a Democrat.
Robin Kelly has the most House seniority, winning her 5th term this month and while the House majority of Speaker Nancy Pelosi is diminished, Kelly has enough seniority to begin moving into more potential leadership positions as a 5-term House member. In the Senate, she’d be starting over in a chamber where seniority is everything and where Democrats will likely be, barring a January 5 Georgia runoff Senate sweep, in the minority.
Additionally, Kelly turns 65 in April of next year, and since it usually takes 8-9 years of Senate experience to begin to have significant seniority, that places Kelly into her mid 70s to really begin to make a difference.
Similar age issues for Chuy Garcia, who also turns 65 in April. The governor could break a glass ceiling by appointing the first Hispanic to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate, but Garcia would face similar challenges in the Senate as Kelly, though he would not lose significant seniority in the House.
Lauren Underwood, Cal covered thoroughly, noting while a Senate vacancy is filled by the governor until the next General Election, a special House election must be called by 120 days after the House seat is vacant, both special primary and special general.
This brings up “succession planning”, and currently, Underwood has no potential successors “on the bench” who could win in the current IL-14 district against Jim Oberweis. I covered this topic about Underwood’s U.S. Senate future in the context Underwood being groomed to succeed U.S. Senator Dick Durbin at the end of his 5th term in 2026, including drawing her a friendlier IL-14 district next year to begin succession planning. The McHenry County Blog article can be seen here.
Which brings us back to the many positives in Raja’s favor beyond his FEC cash-on-hand amount in mid-October.
Succession planning to replace Raja in the special House election in a safe Democratic district includes state Senator Cristina Castro (D, Elgin), who was reelected to a 2nd term in Springfield earlier this month, like Raja, without Republican opposition.
Castro was first elected to the Kane County Board in 2008, and served two terms, and has very strong union backing, critical in a Democratic primary that will likely see other candidates.
Castro succeeding Raja in the 8th district brings Illinois Democrats with the chance to elect a 2nd Hispanic to the Illinois House delegation. Given Joe Biden disappointing showing with Hispanics nationwide, another Hispanic in Illinois’ congressional delegation is desirable going into the 2022 mid-terms.
Back to Raja, in addition to his proven FEC fundraising and succession planning, at age 47 Raja brings youth into a position that takes, as earlier cited, 8-9 years to attain significant seniority.
Raja’s credentials are impeccable, Ivy league-educated with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Princeton and earning his law degree from Harvard.
Being born in India in New Delhi of Tamil-heritage, he shares something with Kamala Harris in addition to being a lawyer.
Raja, for all of his positives, would be very hard to pass up.