Schakowsky throws hat in

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky is the first candidate to formally declare an interest in running in a special election for the vacated U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.

Schakowsky, a Jewish Democrat, announced the establishment of an organizing committee for such a bid on Dec. 10, according to reports on political Web sites, including theseminal.org and talkingpointsmemo.com.

President-elect Barack Obama is vacating the seat. The Illinois constitution leaves filling vacant senate positions to the governor, but Rod Blagojevitch has been arrested on charges that he tried to sell the seat and Illinois authorities are considering removing that power.

Among the options are an appeal to the state Supreme Court to confer the choice on the state’s lieutenant governor; impeaching Blagojevitch so the lieutenant governor can assume control; amending the constitution; or passing a law allowing a special election. Illinois political insiders have said the special election is the likeliest option.

Before his arrest, Blagojevitch had been considering Schakowsky among at least six candidates to fill the vacancy, although the charge sheet against him suggests that she was a dark horse. Schakowsky, who in November won her sixth term to Congress, was one of the first figures in Illinois to call for Blagojevitch’s resignation in the wake of his arrest on Dec. 9.

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