November 16, 2004

Dick Durbin 

posted by Paul Smith @ 1:19 PM
Kudos to Illinois' own Dick Durbin on his elevation to the post of minority whip in the U.S. Senate, the Democrat's second-in-command in that chamber. Our senior senator may be overshadowed by his new junior partner for the time being, but Durbin is a party star in his right, a loyal Dem who has shown conviction during assaults on his 100% pro-choice voting record (which has, as a Catholic, put him at odds with the Church's leadership), and who was impressive in his questioning of former Attorney General John Ashcroft during Judiciary Committee hearings on the "torture memos."

The post of whip is a four-year committment, which indicates he's taken himself out of the running for a national post in 2008. He'll have to run for re-election then, and depending on how well the new minority leader Harry Reid does in holding off the impending Republican legislative assault, he'll be well-positioned to throw his hat in for leader. It bodes well for Illinois in any case, as having two powerful (Obama, thanks to his fundraising for other Dem candidates this fall, enters with the effective clout of a third- or fourth-year member) and well-known senators can only mean strong support for bills that are in the state's interests.

One big question arises: how does Mayor Daley feel about the sudden emergence of two powerful homestate Democrats? Daley, who's manage to keep threats to his clout at bay by not letting potential challengers come up from within, may not be too happy to see the political center of gravity shift to the federal level, and, to a certain degree, towards downstate.

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