Wednesday, December 31, 2008

OE Knows Illinois - Who's the other Senator?

Since I want to replace Barack Obama as the U.S. Senator from Illinois, I'd better make sure that I start on a good footing with my co-workers. And the most important co-worker is going to be the other Senator from Illinois. States are represented in the Senate by a pair of Senators, and it makes sense that one should establish a good working relationship with the other Senator from your state. For example, take the Senators from my home state - whoops, I mean my FORMER home state of California. I'm sure that if Barbara Boxer is delayed because of some committee hearing or another, Dianne Feinstein is nice enough to grab a couple of extra donuts for her.

Well, when I join the Senate, I'll be working alongside Richard J. (Dick) Durbin. My esteemed colleague-to-be sounds like a wonderful person, as evidenced by his biography:

Senator Dick Durbin was elected by his fellow Democratic senators in December 2006 to the post of Assistant Majority Leader, also known as Majority Whip. It is the Senate's second highest ranking position. In 2004, Durbin was elected as Minority Whip. Durbin's election to leadership marked only the fifth time in history that an Illinois senator has served as a Senate leader.

Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, is the 47th U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois and the first Illinois senator to serve on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee in more than a quarter of a century. He is the state's senior senator and convenor of the bipartisan Illinois delegation.

Elected to the U.S. Senate on November 5, 1996 and re-elected in 2002, Durbin fills the seat left vacant by the retirement of his long-time friend and mentor, U.S. Senator Paul Simon.

Note to self: no bow tie jokes around Durbin. Hope Al Franken remembers that also.

In 2001, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) appointed Durbin to the Senate's leadership team, Assistant Democratic Floor Leader. In 2000, Durbin served as Co-Chairman of the Democratic Platform Committee and also was Co-Chairman of the Atlantic Conference sponsored by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. He is a founding member of the Senate Global AIDS Caucus.

So what are Durbin's hot buttons? His biography lists five items:

Improving Health Care
Protecting Consumers
Leading Gun Safety Efforts
Fighting for Farmers
Working for a Fair Tax Code

And how did Durbin get along with the former junior Senator from Illinois? Well, if Durbin is to be believed, they're close:

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Thursday he intends to be President-elect Barack Obama's unofficial "first friend" and has "a hundred" questions to ask Obama at a lunch the two are planning to have together [December 10] in Chicago.

P.S. All joking about my Senate run aside, I did learn some unfortunate news about Durbin about which I wasn't previously aware. From a November 14 article:

Durbin coasted to an easy re-election victory on November 4 over little-known Republican Steven Sauerberg. But the veteran Democrat had to cancel his celebration and miss Obama's extravaganza in Grant Park because of the sudden death of his 40-year-old daughter in a Washington suburb just before the election.

"I had to be with my family. That was my first obligation. And I knew where I had to be. And Barack understood it and was kind enough to call me before and after. And so our friendship is as strong or stronger than it's ever been. And I'm just thankful for my family through a very difficult time," Durbin said.

More information on the death of Chris Durbin (from a congenital heart condition) can be found in this CNN article.

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