Political Animal


November 07, 2012 1:17 PM Michelle O. for Senator in 2016?

By Kathleen Geier

As I noted below, last night was a great night for women. But though we made significant progress last night, we still have a very long way to go. To take just one example, it is nothing less than shameful that in the entire history of the United States, there has been only one African-American woman who has been elected governor or as a U.S. senator: Carol Mosely Braun of Illinois, who served in the senate between 1993 and 1999. Moseley Braun’s old senate seat is currently occupied by a not-especially-popular Republican, Mark Kirk.

I can’t be alone in fervently wishing that Michelle Obama would run for that seat in 2016. Illinois is a blue state, Kirk is eminently beatable, and Mrs. Obama is an Illinois native and one of the most popular people in America. Her speech at this year’s Democratic convention was viewed by many as the highlight there, and the lady has serious political chops. It’s clear to me that Kirk’s seat has her name on it. The only question is whether she herself wants it. Here’s hoping she will give it very serious consideration. It’s said that last night, we achieved a a liberal fantasy, and if we’re thinking in those terms, we might as well add a Michelle Obama campaign for the Senate to our collective liberal wish list!

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • c u n d gulag on November 07, 2012 1:39 PM:

    What about keeping the Presidential franchise in the family, and running for that office in '16, '20, or '24.

  • tonyroma on November 07, 2012 1:40 PM:

    The only way I see this as a possibility is if the girls are firmly attached to their schools and friends in DC and would like to finish their schooling there. Otherwise, it doesn't seem that Michelle is nearly as politically ambitious as Hillary. But there is no doubt she'd make a wonderful advocate for the citizens of Illinois and I'm sure she'd win in a landslide and serve as long as she wanted.

  • schtick on November 07, 2012 1:44 PM:

    I always said Hillary was the smarter of the two, but Bill was the better talker. I was sorry to have her leave NY. She actually came to our area many times and managed to help bring jobs to this area.
    Michele has an advantage with being a good talker, too. I could see her in office and maybe even President. Like Hillary, she would have a fantastic advisor.

  • Lifelong Dem on November 07, 2012 1:47 PM:

    I live in Illinois, and I say NO! NO! NO! The only thing that could happen if she wins a Senate seat is a diminishing of her reputation and popularity. People here still laugh at the mention of Carol Moseley Braun and regard her as one of our more corrupt pols who somehow escaped prosecution.

    For the love of god, no.

  • buddy66 on November 07, 2012 1:48 PM:

    What a great idea! Sign me up to work the phones. But as tonyroma says, it's probably up to the girls.

  • wihntr on November 07, 2012 1:57 PM:

    No way. I am a huge Barack Obama fan; in 34 years of voting in every single election at all levels he is the first candidate about whom I ever felt any real enthusiasm. And from what I have read about the first lady, she seems extremely intelligent and is a skillful advocate. However, I am firmly against family dynasties in American politics. Obviously we have had several at various levels in our nation's history, but that does not make them right or good.

  • bluestatedon on November 07, 2012 2:06 PM:

    Politics is an extremely dirty business, and I'd hate to see Michelle—and by extension their daughters—subjected to the same crap that Barack has had to endure.

    I don't why she's being compared to Moseley Braun, though.

  • DJ on November 07, 2012 2:14 PM:

    As anyone with any knowledge of Illinois politics could tell you, the candidate Kirk fears most is not Michelle Obama, but Lisa Madigan, the extremely popular Attorney General of Illinois. She would be a prohibitive favorite in any statewide office race of her choosing. She has young children, and might want to stay in Chicago and Springfield a little while longer.

  • wheresthebeef on November 07, 2012 2:35 PM:

    Why not Barack for an Illinois Senate seat? He'll be too young to retire, and I don't see him hanging around the fringes of the political scene when there's still (and will still be after 2016) so much work to be done.

  • bmcchgo on November 07, 2012 2:36 PM:

    If you knew Illinois politics Ms. Geier, you'd realize that there are already two well-qualified women that would be formidable Dem candidates for US Senate in 2016. Turn on the Google machine and search for States Atty Kathleen Madigan and Congresswoman Jan Schankowsky.

  • flydoc2000 on November 07, 2012 2:38 PM:

    Put her on the Supreme Court instead.

  • matt w on November 07, 2012 2:38 PM:

    I've had this thought too. It'd put Michelle O. exactly on the Hillary Clinton career track; I think she'd be about a year younger than HRC was when she left the White House for the Senate.

  • Ebenezer Scrooge on November 07, 2012 2:42 PM:

    What wihntr said. Politics should not be a family business in a democracy. Not a Bush family business; not a Clinton family business; not an Obama family business. (Not to mention the Gandhi family in India, the Lee family in Singapore, or the many families in Japan.)

    Yes, opposition to family politics disfavors women. But plenty of women nowadays seem to do just fine in politics without a family name. Congratulations Senators Warren, Baldwin & Heitkamp!

  • DJ on November 07, 2012 2:45 PM:

    Turn on the Google machine and search for States Atty Kathleen Madigan and Congresswoman Jan Schankowsky.

    1) It's Lisa Madigan, not Kathleen.
    2) She is Illinois Attorney General, not a State's Attorney (what we call county prosecutors in Illinois)
    3) It's "Schakowsky."

    If you're going to be a condescending prick, bmcchgo, get your damn facts right.

  • Shelly on November 07, 2012 3:14 PM:

    I actually think Barack would make a great Supreme Court justice - he has the brains and scholarly disposition.

  • wheresthebeef on November 07, 2012 3:20 PM:

    Shelly--An even better idea than running for the Senate is having him appointed to the Supreme Court. Props for bringing it up.

  • Quaker in a Basement on November 07, 2012 3:40 PM:

    If she wants it, I'd support her. But I also would understand if she wanted to have a life.

  • bmcchgo on November 07, 2012 4:05 PM:

    If you're going to be a condescending prick, bmcchgo, get your damn facts right.

    You're right on all accounts DJ, but did ya need to hurt my feelings? And on a day like this? [sad]

  • DJ on November 07, 2012 4:25 PM:

    but did ya need to hurt my feelings? And on a day like this? [sad]

    You didn't seem too concerned about Ms. Geier's feelings. It's called karma, and it's a you-know-what.

  • bmcchgo on November 07, 2012 4:33 PM:

    Her question just reeked of not doing her job, so excuse me for being a bit flippant. And I could not spell-check and double check my post because I should be working and not double-checking my work with a Google search.

    But in the end, the two candidates I alluded to are better positioned to take on Kirk.

  • EdgewaterJoe on November 07, 2012 5:42 PM:

    Let's see if Kirk will still be in that seat come 2016. There have been plenty of rumors that his stroke may ultimately make it hard for him to even serve out the term ...

  • James E. Powell on November 07, 2012 7:03 PM:

    Anything is possible, but I would be surprised if Michelle Obama ran for senator, especially in 2016. I think she will want a rest, time to herself. But I've been surprised before.

  • Doug on November 07, 2012 7:35 PM:

    There is nothing inherently bad about having political "dynasties". Personally, I find nothing un-democratic about the idea that members of a particular family might feel public service to be their duty; both to their sense of family and their sense of civic responsibility. It all depends on the qualifications, abilities and intentions of the person.
    Based on those criteria, Michelle Obama seems to me to be fully qualified to run for any office she chooses, regardless of who her husband is.

  • low-tech cyclist on November 08, 2012 8:01 PM:

    Hadn't thought about the idea of Michelle Obama running for Senator in 2016, but I'm all for it. She's got the chops for it, if she's interested, and I bet she'd win in a walk.