By Reid Wilson - Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was impeached Friday by an overwhelming margin in the state House, setting up the first instance in that state’s history of a governor facing trial by the state Senate.
The 114-1 vote came after Blagojevich was arrested for corruption charges, including allegations he tried to sell President-elect Obama's Senate seat. The leading Illinois Democrat on the impeachment panel said Blagojevich demonstrated a betrayal of his oath of office. Blagojevich "is not fit to govern the state of Illinois," state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Currie headed the impeachment panel that unanimously recommended booting the governor from office in a report issued Thursday.
Blagojevich's fate now rests with the 59 state senators who will sit as jurors. Two-thirds, or 40 senators, are needed to convict Blagojevich and remove him from office. The chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court will preside over the trial.
Though representatives said they hoped the impeachment would encourage Blagojevich to resign and avoid what is expected to be a three-week trial, a spokesman for the governor told the Tribune he would not step down.
Blagojevich is set to address the media at 3 p.m. Eastern Time at his office in Chicago.
If Blagojevich is convicted, an outcome that seems likely, he would be replaced by Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn (D). The lone vote against impeachment came from Rep. Milt Patterson, a Chicago legislator who said he did not feel it was his duty to impeach the governor.
It is unclear what effect the impeachment will have on Roland Burris, whom Blagojevich appointed to Obama's Senate seat.
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