SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The state Senate that will decide whether to throw impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich out of office will be sworn in today by — who else? — impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
In an ironic, surreal scene, the governor will preside briefly over the chamber that will hold his political life in its hands in less than two weeks. The opening of a new legislative session is normally an upbeat occasion, but how the senators and the governor will respond is anyone's guess.
"On one hand, it's a time of great celebration here in the Senate of a new beginning and new leadership," said Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg, an Evanston Democrat. "On the other hand, there will be no denying the fact that the governor's participation in the proceedings will give it a character and flavor that many members would just as soon not experience."
Blagojevich was impeached by the House on Friday, a month after his arrest on federal charges that he tried to sell official government action — including an appointment to President-elect Obama's Senate seat — for campaign contributions or a plush job.
He is the state's first governor to face such censure and the first public official since a circuit judge in 1833 was impeached but acquitted. The Senate's trial is scheduled to start Jan. 26.