I've heard some talk about what would happen in various states in regards to replacing the candidates, depending on which presidential ticket wins. Win or lose for Obama/Biden, it does interest me who would ultimately end up becoming a senator come January. And oddly enough, the possibility I've heard the least speculation about is who would replace Obama should he ascend to the presidency.
Now in the interest of not putting the cart before the horse and damning Obama/Biden with bad karma, I'll look at the horrifying possibility first; what if the GOP ticket wins.
If McCain is elected president, then Governor Janet Napolitano gets to appoint his successor. To any Dems thinking of an extra senate seat as a small consolation prize after losing the White House, or at least hoping if would make Governor Jodi Rell's (R-CT) possible Republican senate appointment to replace Lieberman a wash, there's bad news. Arizona does have a law requiring her to replace a Republican with a Republican. However, unlike some states Arizona seems to lack any 'advice and consent' law for the succession, so she may not be legally bound to select from a State GOP-prepared shortlist. The obvious upside to that is that it prevents the Republicans from forcing the selection of a strong successor. The downside is that since Napolitano is the best Democratic candidate for McCain's seat in 2010 and she probably has her eye on the race, which the GOP surely know, so it's potentially a hazardous position for her. The obvious temptation is to choose a weak, unknown, scandal-ridden or otherwise unelectable 'Interim Senator' who she could beat easily in 2010. But the Republicans would probably just nominate their preferred candidate once the 2010 primary rolled around and then criticise Napolitano (probably rightfully) for playing politics and trying to steal the senate seat without facing a real race.
However, Electoral-Vote.com did have an interesting suggestion. She could appoint Jim Kolbe, former Republican Congressman for the Arizona 8th. Kolbe served 11 terms in congress, was the second openly gay Republican and was among the most liberal Republicans in the House of abortion rights, gay rights and the environment. In other words, he would be a moderate ally of senate Dems on certain issues and he would be the first openly gay senator. Conservative Arizona Republicans would probably challenge him for renomination if he wanted to run in 2010, but a moderate nominee would theoretically seem tough for Napolitano to beat. And as a former 11 term congressman, Republicans can't say Napolitano gave Arizonans an inexperienced legislator. But then again, Napolitano could also opt to let the Republicans give her shortlist. It would seem mature and bipartisan, in the spirit of the law and respectful to the voters, which would sheild her from attacks and maybe give her a talking-point to use on the trail. Ultimately, it would still lead to a rare Musgrove-Wicker style matchup between a well-known Democrat who had been elected statewide (twice) and an appointed Republican Senator who hadn't, so the odds would still be in her favor for 2010. Possible Republican candidates reportedly include Congressmen Jeff Flake and John Shadegg.
With Sean Parnell losing to Congressman Don Young in the primary, Parnell is now set to succeed Palin to the Alaska governorship should she win the Vice Presidency. That's probably a better deal for Parnell anyway, since being a state governor is much better than being a House freshman in a minority who have probably just lost 10-20 more seats. Democratic prospects for defeating Governor Parnell in 2010 wouldn't be great. If McCain/Palin win he won't be as tarred by association to her, since her scandals wouldn't have brought her and McCain down. Ethan Berkowitz and Mark Begich are now likely to win their statewide races, so they would be the two best challengers. But polls have shown that without a scandal-ridden opponent in Young, Berkowitz's position in the House race wouldn't be as good and the same is probably true of a Parnell-Berkowitz fight for the governorship. As a former Anchorage mayor and a sitting Senator, Begich would be stronger, but in any case he would be doing the national party more good by staying in the senate. Beyond that, the Democratic bench in Alaska is quite thin. Tony Knowles would be no use, as proven several times.
Now back to the happy thoughts; if the Democratic ticket wins. There's been more speculation about Biden's seat than the other three, for some reason, and the conventional wisdom has now become clear on this. The term-limited Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) or State Treasurer Jack Markell, her likely successor due to weak GOP opposition in the 2008 gubernatorial race, would get to make the appointment come January. Lieutenant Governor John Carney, who lost the gubernatorial primary to Markell, would be one possibility, and Delaware Attorney General and National Guard soldier Beau Biden is considered the other. Beau is shipping off to Iraq, which could complicate his appointment, but on the other hand adds to his credentials as a public servant. You could question the nepotism of Beau getting to assume his father's seat, but as State AG he has the experience to justify it. The pressing question to me is who would be more progressive on the issues out of Senator Biden III or Senator Carney, since Delaware is now a fairly blue state and another excessively moderate Senator like Carper isn't a necessity to hold the seat. The problem is I'm having trouble finding much on either of their records. NARAL has Carney listed as pro-choice on abortion rights, but AG Biden's stance is stated unknown. I do know that the NRA attacked Markell on Carney's behalf in the primary. Being pro-gun rights doesn't necessarily rule him out, even Howard Dean got NRA endorsements in Vermont, but the fact that the NRA slandered another Democrat for him makes me suspicious. All in all, if Beau's stances on the issues are similar to his father's, that's probably good enough.
Finally, the one that really interests me. Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) gets to pick Obama's Democratic successor in the senate. I'm sure he and the state party will make a good choice, but I'd like to think that Obama himself will get some input into who his successor will be. Again, Illinois is blue and it seems important to replace Obama with a senator at least as progressive as he is. Also, it's worth remembering that even with Obama, the senate is only 6% non-white and 1% black. While him taking the presidency will be a huge leap forward for black and minority rights, it could have the minor side effect of making the Senate less diverse than it already is. If the best appointee isn't black, that shouldn't force Blagojevich to choose a lesser candidate who is, but it's worth considering the impact at least. The good thing is that the Democratic bench in Illinois isn't exactly thin.
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr (IL-02) is a strong choice. He's only 43, but has been in the House since 1995 so he has plenty of legislative experience. He is a staunch progressive and the son of great progressive leader, and his appointment would replace Obama with another black Senator who has been an Obama ally in Congress. His district is unlosable, so there won't be open seat issues.
Congressman Rahm Emmanuel (IL-05) is a prominent, experienced Illinois Democrat, with a proven record when it comes to election fundraising. While he is a prominent DLC supporter, it is worth noting that his record is still relatively liberal and like many New Democrats, he has reversed himself on Iraq. Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-01) is another black, staunch progressive possibility. Again, both have unlosable districts. But on top of Jackson, Emmanuel and Rush, Illinois has eight other House Democrats who could be considered, with Debbie Halvorson and Dan Seals fighting to pick up two more in 2008.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan is another choice. She is young, would put another woman in the senate and is speculated as a possible candidate for governor or even president one day. There are interest group ratings for her on project vote smart, she's pro-choice and pro-labor, but I can't find much else.
Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn has been elected twice to the second-highest statewide office in Illinois. Blagojevich is not term-limited for 2010, but he could also appoint himself to the seat and let Quinn assume the governorship. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is another speculated name.