Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is reconsidering the possibility of running for the Senate in 2010, according to several sources familiar with her thinking.
Madigan, widely considered the 800-pound gorilla in the state's politics, had previously flatly ruled out a Senate bid in 2010 -- insisting that all of her attention is on the governor's race next year.
But, with Gov. Pat Quinn (D) riding high after having replaced disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and a new poll conducted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee showing her cruising to the Senate seat, Madigan is at least entertaining the possibility of running to join the world's greatest deliberative body. Madigan would likely still start as the favorite in the governor's race but even those close to her acknowledge that the path to the Senate is less cluttered.
If she runs, she would drastically shake up the current Democratic field. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is widely seen as the current frontrunner but would likely struggle to keep his support from the party establishment in the face of a Madigan candidacy. (Madigan's father, Mike, is the powerful speaker of the Illinois state House.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky is also seriously considering the race but almost certainly wouldn't challenge Madigan in a primary. Chris Kennedy, the son of former Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the president of Merchandise Mart, is has conducted a poll to test a possible candidacy. Appointed Sen. Roland Burris has yet to make any announcement about his future political plans but is widely regarded as superfluous to the conversation as he was badly damaged from his ties to Blagojevich and his decision to to raise money for a re-election bid in the first three months of the year.
Madigan is far from a sure thing to run for the Senate. There are at least two reasons why she won't run: she covets the governor's office and she is sitting on more than $4 million in a state campaign account that could not be transferred to a Senate bid. (Quinn has tried to neuter Madigan by proposing that no money could be carried over to the governor's race in 2010 but it's not clear that is going anywhere.)
Still, the prospect of claiming President Obama's old Senate seat at a time when Washington is undeniably the center of the political world and governors around the country are being forced to either raise taxes, slash programs or both could well be more attractive to Madigan than in months and years past.
If the DSCC can land her, it's a major recruiting success that could solve a potentially major problem in Illinois.
For those who have let the epic scandals of yore be forgotten, Madigan is Blago's onetime archrival and the Senate Candidate #2 who he plotted to appoint in order to keep her from primarying him in '10. She also filed a motion to have him impeached immediately following the corruption charges, although that was shot down. She's kinda badass but also kinda suspicious in that Chicago familial mafia politics way.