Durbin says race not key for Obama vacancy

Nov. 15, 2008 at 12:38 PM

CHICAGO, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says race should not be the main qualifier for whoever succeeds President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate.

The senior senator from Illinois said the "most talented person" should be chosen to replace Obama despite suggestions a person of the same race should assume the black junior senator's seat, the Chicago Tribune said Saturday.

"I understand there's a strong sentiment in the African-American community in this state that the replacement of the only African-American in the Senate be another African-American, and we have a number of talented people who could certainly fill that role," Durbin said Friday. "If it were my decision to make, it wouldn't be a litmus test, it wouldn't be the only consideration. I would look for the most talented person who could serve this state and who would be likely … elected two years from now."

Obama has announced he will officially leave his Senatorial post Sunday, leaving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with the final decision on his successor.

The Tribune said Durbin, whose comments were made after the senator ate lunch with the president-elect, is expected to meet with the governor sometime next week.

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