Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Senate seat for sale

Two good things seem to be coming out the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on charges that he was trying to sell Obama's old U.S. Senate seat. The first is that Obama apparently wouldn't play ball. Obama had a preference for a successor, but he wasn't willing to pony up money for it, which made Blagojevich mad. So Obama passes the (admitedly low) bar for being a clean Chicago pol. Regardless of whether you like Obama or not, it's probably to everyone's benefit that the incoming president doesn't have to take office with an enormous pay-to-play scandal wrapped around his neck.

The second bonus is that we might get some real evidence on what a Senate seat is worth. Groseclose and Milyo did a nice study a few years back that took advantage of a change in campaign donation laws to figure out the price of a seat in the U.S. House. Members were allowed to keep the funds they'd raised for campaigning if they agreed to retire. Groseclose and Milyo found that the average member was willing to walk away from his House seat for about $3 million, although there was considerable variance on this figure.

So maybe we'll find that Blagojevich received a lot of offers, and maybe even was willing to negotiate a bit. This could be quite informative.

1 comment:

Eric said...

how does a politician win with the name like Blagojevich. I mean, what was his campaign slogan?

"Everyone gets rich with Blagojevich"