Valerie B.Jarrett, a trusted adviser to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, may also be a candidate to succeed him in the U.S. Senate if he should win the White House.
In recent weeks, Jarrett's name has surfaced within the state's tightly-knit political and financial circles as a viable possibility for the Senate slot, according to a highly-placed Obama source. Those discussions were confirmed by another high-level Democratic Party operative and corporate source.
An Obama presidential win would open up his Illinois senate seat and, under state law, Gov. Rod Blagojevich must name someone to serve Obama's remaining term.
I don't mean to make this sound more mysterious than it merits. But I've agreed to keep my sources on background. Also note that it's unclear where this "Jarrett-for-Senate" push originated, or if Obama has participated in any of the recent discussions.
Early last week, while working on another Obama story, I came across this information about Jarrett. At that time, I asked the Obama campaign--which is handling press inquiries pertaining to Jarrett's relationship with the Obama election effort --to respond. I've yet to receive an answer.
A strong case can be made for naming Jarrett to the Senate.
True, she's never held elected office but has been in politics much of her adult life--running various top agencies for Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Moreover, she's made her mark in the private sector, where she's currently CEO of real estate developer The Habitat Co. and is highly-regarded within Chicago's political and corporate elite. To read her resume, click here.
On top of these accomplishments, Jarrett is a close friend and confidant of Obama and his wife Michelle. Jarrett was an early and influential Obama-backer and remains extremely loyal to him. As an African-American woman, Jarrett would also bring some much-needed minority representation to the country's upper chamber.
While naming someone to succeed Senator Obama is Blagojevich's call, Obama will have a lot of influence on that decision. Other names that have surfaced include: U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr., State Treasurer and Obama buddy Alexi Giannoulias, , Tammy Duckworth, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
That's just some of the contenders.
There's even talk that Blagojevich would name himself and beat a hasty exit from Springfield. Don't count on that happening, however.
Senator Valerie Jarrett? That may also be a long shot.
Conventional wisdom is she'll take an upper-level job on Obama's staff or within his administration. Of course, that's provided Obama wins.