3 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Run For Senate

by Seth Millstein

Could there be two First Ladies on the ballot in two years? There’s been some talk Michelle Obama running for the Senate in 2016, which would have her campaigning for public office the same year as (potentially slash probably) Hillary Clinton. Even though Obama hasn’t publicly indicated any interest, and has never run for public office, the idea of her making a go for the Senate in 2016 isn’t as out-of-left-field as it might sound. It actually makes a good amount of sense.

A lot can happen between now and 2016, but as things stand, Michelle Obama would face somewhat favorable terrain if she decided to make a run for the Senate. A (very early and preliminary) poll of the state had her leading Mark Kirk, the likely Republican candidate, by 11 points. She has ample managerial and political experience, excellent oratory skills, and has been remarkably popular among both Democrats and Republicans for the last six years.

We think a Michelle Obama Senate run makes perfect sense. Here’s why.

She Has What It Takes To Win...

When Barack Obama left the Senate to become president, then-Governor Rod Blagojevich had the responsibility of appointing Obama’s replacement. Blagojevich proceeded to try and sell the Senate seat (“I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing,” he boasted on the wiretap that eventually landed him in prison), then appointed a rather amusing local Democrat named Roland Burris to hold the seat. But Burris didn’t run in 2010 — and neither did any of the strongest Democratic politicians in the state. It was ultimately won by moderate Republican Mark Kirk, who still holds it today.

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In other words, that Senate seat hasn’t been very kind to Democrats over the last couple of years, despite Illinois being a heavily Democratic state. But Michelle would be a strong candidate: She’s a great speaker, is consistently very popular, well-versed in Chicago politics and is generally well liked by Republicans and Democrats alike.

...And To Serve

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Michelle isn't just a skilled politician (though she is that). She's also a qualified public servant, having worked extensively with and in a lot of the institutions she'd be wrangling with as Senator. In the early 90s, she was an assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and served as Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development in the city shortly thereafter. She also founded and directed Public Allies Chicago, a non-profit aimed at identifying potential leaders in the community, and then became Associate Dean of Student Services at University of Chicago.

This isn’t even touching on her extensive background in law. Before moving Chicago, she helped low income Massachusetts residents obtain legal resources at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. She then worked for three years as an associate attorney at the law firm Sidley & Austin, which is where she met a young summer associate named Barack Obama.

She’d Be Following A Proven Model

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One potential drawback to a Senate run is that Michelle would have to actively campaign during her last year as First Lady. But that’s been done before: Hillary Clinton started running for the Senate in New York in 1999, when Bill was still in the White House. She campaigned excellently, and won by 12 points. At the same time, it’s not clear that the Obama name will be worth as much in 2016 as the Clinton name was in 2000.

Also, if Hillary Clinton ran for president and Michelle Obama ran for the Senate, they could, to some degree, pool their resources. A significant chunk of Obama’s high-level support from 2012 has already signed on to help a potential Hillary 2016 bid, and the financial link between the two families could grow if Hillary and Michelle wind up running office in the same year.