(1) Blagojevich sought someone who would accept his offer & whose standing could help him; & (2) Obama comes thru, diffusing the expected race chatter
Since his arrest on corruption charges on Dec. 9, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois wavered several times on whether to appoint a new senator to fill the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, people with knowledge of his thinking said Wednesday.
But once it became clear that state lawmakers would not call a special election, Mr. Blagojevich had an emissary make a call on Dec. 24 to Danny K. Davis, a Democratic representative and longtime African-American leader.
Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat who had already been accused of trying to sell the seat, had a difficult calculus to meet: someone who would accept his offer under the circumstances and someone, political experts say, whose standing might somehow help spare his own future, political or otherwise.
Mr. Davis said Wednesday that he turned down the governor’s offer to take the seat. But he suggested that the governor might want to consider Roland W. Burris, a former attorney general and the first African-American elected to statewide office in Illinois. Four days later, Mr. Blagojevich presented Mr. Burris (who was not told about the earlier invitation to Mr. Davis) as the next senator from Illinois, saying he was required to make an appointment.
Political leaders here, nearly all of whom have been critical, suggested that the governor very likely had other motivations. Some said he wanted to cause political trouble for his critics, forcing Senate leaders either to accept his appointee or to be seen as rejecting a respected African-American leader, while others said that he was trying to garner favor among blacks, and perhaps even members of an eventual jury pool.
Several black lawmakers . . . said Mr. Obama’s opposition to the appointment would do little to ease such concerns among their black constituents, who remain concerned that the Senate has no black members.