A little messier in Illinois

A LITTLE MESSIER IN ILLINOIS…. Illinois Republicans, excited about the mere possibility of picking up a U.S. Senate seat, have a new poll showing that 70% of voters in the state would be “less likely” to support a Senate candidate who “supported or endorsed Rod Blagojevich’s re-election” in 2006. Since that would include pretty much every Democrat in the state, the result helps explain why the GOP is so desperate to get a special election.

It appears increasingly likely, though, that they won’t get one.

State Democrats slammed the door Tuesday on a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, reversing earlier calls for a vote and ending a rare sense of statewide bipartisanship that followed Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s arrest last week.

Indeed, the General Assembly began the impeachment process, but declined to take up the proposal for a special election, and will not reconvene until January 12.

A Democrat in the state legislature told Eric Kleefeld, “It hasn’t been tabled permanently. It could die, but they are still working on it.”

OK, so policy makers in Illinois will fill the vacancy by pursuing the other route — remove Blagojevich from office, and have Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) appoint the new senator. The problem with that, however, is that the impeachment process is not only slow, but federal prosecutors said yesterday that it “might interfere with the criminal case” against the governor. Patrick Fitzgerald has reportedly “expressed reservations about the prospect that lawmakers may hear testimony from witnesses in the criminal case before a jury does.”

This could go on for a while.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.