U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D)
At age 69, it has been rumored for a while that U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is looking to retire from the Senate. If re-elected next year, he would be 76 years old at the end of his fourth term in 2020.
But stepping down before the 2014 election has risks. An open U.S. Senate seat in 2014 could give Republicans a fighting chance for a traditionally safe Democrat seat. Especially in a mid-term election year with poll numbers moving in the wrong direction for Democrats.
Of course a second option is to have Durbin run in 2014, retain the seat for the Democrats, and then resign following his re-election. In that scenario, the Illinois governor would appoint his replacement.
However, 2014 is also a gubernatorial election year in Illinois, and there is a real possibility the Republicans could win, which would mean a GOP governor making the appointment.
But...there is a third option. A very "Illinois" option.
In this scenario, Durbin gets kicked upstairs to a Cabinet Post (perhaps Homeland Security?) by a President from his home state, who he supported from the very beginning.
Durbin would get to finish his political career in the Executive Branch, and leave politics in 2016 - four years earlier than if he had to serve out a full U.S. Senate term.
Fellow Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn would then appoint another Democrat (Attorney General Lisa Madigan?) to Durbin's empty Senate seat.
It is a Democrat win all around.
Durbin wins because his seat goes to a fellow Democrat who has the gravitas, network and money to easily retain the seat in November 2014.
Quinn wins because he eliminates a formidable 2014 gubernatorial primary opponent - Lisa Madigan.
And Madigan wins because she gets promoted to a U.S. Senate seat and doesn't have to deal with the financial crisis facing Illinois - or the issue of her father, House Speaker Mike Madigan.
In the words of former Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich, it's a "f**kin golden" opportunity for Illinois Democrats.