Let the battle begin
State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson's decision to retire will produce an interesting fight in the March 2014 Democratic primary.
There's usually a line of political wannabes watching every step that incumbent legislators take, wishing, waiting and hoping that one day they'll decide to cash in their chips and go home.
That's when the scramble for succession begins.
Last week, it was state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, the Urbana Democrat, who announced that, at age 71, she won't seek re-election to her seventh term in the Illinois House of Representatives.
A former Champaign County recorder of deeds, Jakobsson decided that she's had enough and prefers to be home in Urbana rather than in Springfield.
"It was not an easy decision," Jakobsson said.
That statement raises serious questions about her judgment.
Leaving the General Assembly should be an exceptionally easy decision for Jakobsson. She's maxed out her government pension. She knows that members of the Legislature these days are less popular than skunks at garden parties. It's so bad that even the unpopular Gov. Pat Quinn can win public huzzahs for stripping legislators of their paychecks.
Considered in that context, serving in Springfield can't be much fun. The state's problems — neglected and exacerbated so long by the Legislature — border on the unsolvable.
The question isn't why Jakobsson would decide to leave; it's why she would want to stay.
There is, however, no question about why many locals politicos want to succeed her. It's another step up the ladder — higher pay, more prestige. Some may even care about public policy.
So it will be interesting to see, in the end, which ones announce their candidacies for Jakobsson's 103rd District seat.
Champaign County Board Member Michael Richards, rejected by his fellow Democrats for the post as county board chairman, immediately announced he's in and picked up Jakobsson's endorsement. Others Democrats are weighing their chances.
Of course, no Republicans need apply. House Speaker Michael Madigan's legislative gerrymandering has put this seat solidly in the Democratic column. The GOP may scare up some cannon fodder, as it has done in past elections, but that's probably about it.
The Democrats are in charge of this show. It ought to be entertaining to see whom the voters send to Springfield to do Madigan's bidding.