Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9) announced today that she is forgoing a run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama, now occupied by the blighted Roland Burris. In a video announcement she told viewers she would stick with House seat and continue serving the various leadership positions she reeled off. Showing great humility, Rep. Schakowsky even said that she would have no problem raising close to $30 million she thinks it would take to win the primary and the general election for the Senate seat.
Given that Schakowsky is now out of the race, Ramsin Canon at Gapers Block points out this leaves State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (and his Bright Start mess) as the only Democrat who has decided to run. Chris Kennedy of the Merchandise Mart is the other big Dem still left undecided.
Schakowsky’s entrance in the Senate race would have caused a ripple effect impacting so many elections. No doubt a host of names, possibly various state reps and state senators, would have stepped up for the 9th District seat. Those elected officials who would have subsequently thrown their hat in the ring would see various candidates or other local elected officials bid for their state seats, and so on. Clearly, Schakowsky’s decision not to run for Senate saved a lot of election activity.
But is that a good thing? Schakowsky has served for 10 years in her seat and her predecessor served 48 years in that seat. I question whether it is keeping with progressive values for one person to dominate a single elected congressional seat for so long. Nobody will challenge, let alone defeat Schakowsky, as long as she stays continues to serve and run for that seat.
Maybe it would have been a good thing if Schakowsky tried her luck for the US Senate. Here in state politics, the Illinois Reform Commission has put forth a proposal on term limits. That was largely rejected by Illinois state leaders. But many in Illinois support the commission’s position that term limits are a good thing for a health democracy.
Progressivism, which I’ve discussed before and which is a term I believe has been hijacked from its original meaning, is something that Schakowsky has self-annointed. True progressivism is a belief in accelerated change and more direct democracy. But with one person serving in a seat for so long, that reality seems at odds with progressive values.