The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Barack Obama

Obama Will Resign from Senate Sunday

A sign of congratulations hangs on a lamppost outside the Kluczynski Federal Office Building which houses President-elect Barack Obama's transition office in downtown Chicago, Nov. 12, 2008. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Updated 3:42 p.m.
By Michael D. Shear
President-elect Barack Obama has decided to resign from the U.S. Senate effective Sunday, leaving the Congress a day before it reconvenes to debate a rescue for the auto industry and putting pressure on the Illinois governor to pick a replacement.

In a statement issued Thursday, Obama said: "In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who've taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children's future. It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation's next president."

Obama transition spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed the timing of Obama's decision, which was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat, now has to appoint a replacement for Obama. Among the names that have been mentioned are Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who runs the state's Department of Veterans' Affairs; Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a former national co-chairman of the campaign; Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.; and Valerie Jarrett, a close friend and adviser of Obama's. Jarrett has since taken her name out of consideration.

There had been some some speculation that Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) would want the job, but that became moot after Obama tapped him to be White House chief of staff.

Whoever is appointed to replace Obama would serve until the next federal election in 2010. The governor has 60 days to appoint a successor.

Aides said Obama's Senate staff will spend the next several weeks shutting his office down and archiving his papers for eventual inclusion in his presidential library.

"It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate," Obama said in the statement.

Posted at 3:17 PM ET on Nov 13, 2008  | Category:  Barack Obama
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I wonder if Obama's decision to resign now is an indication that the Gov is ready to name his pick. Notice that without the Senator from Illinois, the Dems do not have the votes to pass a party line vote in the lame duck session and Biden, who's vote would also be needed, is not yet leaving.

Posted by: cjenns | November 13, 2008 9:36 PM

Well...its a good start

Posted by: Homunculus | November 13, 2008 8:57 PM

If the replacement is seated immediately, they'd enter the Congress next year not as a Freshman (or Freshperson or whatever) but as a Senator with 1 'Congress' worth of Seniority, thus being technically higher in line for appointments on committees, etc.

Just a few days and they get the benefit of 2 years, if the Illinois governor is smart enough to act fast.

Posted by: idiparker | November 13, 2008 8:41 PM

JJ Jr. makes sense.

Posted by: gbooksdc | November 13, 2008 7:42 PM

NMModerate1 you are a typical mentally ill democrat that jumps to conclusions. I never supported Bush or McCain. I voted for Independent candidates the last two elections. As far as Obama being a communitst "Spread the Wealth" is all I have to say and when you have time research his mentors over the years. (On a side note it was published in a medical journal recently that democrats suffer 20% more depression that republicans--Please get the help you need before its too late)

Posted by: Independentthinker4 | November 13, 2008 6:15 PM

Oh, dear! How will the people of Illinois ever replace someone who did so much for them?!?!?

Posted by: Sharon_59 | November 13, 2008 6:02 PM

If Liebermann decides to switch to the Republican caucus on Monday, does this not make the Republicans the majority party in the Senate until January??

Posted by: pcth | November 13, 2008 5:59 PM

If he is not there...who is going to vote "Present"????

Posted by: doggit1 | November 13, 2008 5:58 PM

"and look forward to more volatility with Obama's Communist decisions" . You mean like nationalizing the banking system or government owning the auto industry? Oops, thats your man Bush who did that! What the he11 has Obama ever done to deserve the label "communist"? Do you even know what that word means, "thinker"?

Posted by: NMModerate1 | November 13, 2008 5:48 PM

This has to be the most 'Who cares' article ever written. He never worked in the Senate anyway. This country is in for a rude awakening. Only an idiot who is tied to the special interests of unions would be pushing for an auto bailout. Personally I've benefited tremendously with the volatility in the market lately and look forward to more volatility with Obama's Communist decisions. It's very simple these days buy low and sell high. Most of the country doesn't understand the market and is going to suffer significantly from the so called former Senator.

Posted by: Independentthinker4 | November 13, 2008 5:23 PM

As went his stay in Chicago politics, so went his stay in the Senate, so, too, will go his stay as president. Too bad no one truly worthy ever steps up or can make it through the petty, shallow, nature of the system.

Posted by: josheyre | November 13, 2008 5:12 PM

To mikeinmidland: You're right.

No, there wasn't a lame duck session after the 1960, when JFK was president-elect. But that summer, after the Democratic convention but before the real election campaign commenced, Congress came back into session, which meant that both Kennedy and LBJ had to sit in the Senate while VP Nixon at least nominally presided. Johnson had set up this situation before the convention in hopes that, as the nominee, he'd wow the country with his genius as majority leader. But in fact it was all a waste of time, and Kennedy in particular looked helpless and useless. Nixon's poll numbers went up substantially and didn't start to come down until the first TV debate (late September).

It is very important that Obama not now be put into the position of being one more Democratic senator wrangling with stubborn-as-a-mule Bush over a stimulus package and a GM bailout that probably won't happen anyway. Obama should be getting his administration lined up. It would probably also be a good idea for Biden to get out of the Senate. Has a successor--probabky a placeholder for Beau--been lined up yet? Why not Jill Biden for the interim?

As Obama's successor, I hope that Tammy Duckworth gets appointed. She'd be a great new presence--and that would also free up Max Cleland to return as Veterans Affairs secretary (a position for which Duckworth has also been mentioned).

Posted by: jm917 | November 13, 2008 5:08 PM

Val Jarrett was supposedly Obama's first choice, so it probably goes back to Jackson or Duckworth as runner-up's.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | November 13, 2008 4:45 PM

This is a very wise move. We have not had a sitting Senator as President-elect since 1960. I don't know if there was a lame-duck session that year, but it would seem very awkward to "play senator" when you are already "the next president."

The question now is, how soon will a replacement be named? It is actually somewhat of a moot point, because I doubt any legislation would be passed in this session by so narrow a vote.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | November 13, 2008 3:49 PM

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