Rumors Float of Michelle Obama for Senate
Tongues are wagging in Chicago that First Lady Michelle Obama is warming up for a run for the U.S. Senate in 2016 when Republican Senator Mark Kirk is up for re-election.
Breitbart reported on May 25 that Michelle Obama was "stepping up her solo political engagement" on several issues she is most interested in. She even waded into criticism of the House of Representatives for threatening to put a crimp on her much-criticized school lunch program and is scheduled to host several conferences and other public policy gatherings this year.
But with this new, more intense level of political engagement comes rumors that Obama is gearing up for a political career of her own. Meanwhile one of Illinois' few elected Republicans, Senator Mark Kirk, is up for re-election in 2016, conveniently at the end of her husband's last term in office.
As a result of all this, a new editorial at Reuters speculates that Obama may be laying the groundwork for a run for the Senate by asking the obvious question: "So what’s with the bolder profile?"
One possibility could come up in 2016. Republican Senator Mark Kirk could be vulnerable since his very public stroke in 2012. Many inside the Illinois GOP have wondered if Senator Kirk might retire in 2016 instead of running for re-election. If that happens, Obama could be running for an open seat.
Still, if Kirk does run for re-election in 2016 Michelle Obama might make a tough opponent. She would certainly be able raise money at a quick clip.
Reuters goes on to say, "She would quickly become the most recognizable face in the Senate. Her fame and fundraising ability would command deference in a body that normally operates on seniority."
Such a claim may not be as pat as Reuters might think. After all, it didn't really work that easily for Hillary Clinton, who was also a high-profile wife of a past president and a successful fundraiser. None of that really translated to too much power above her seniority when she became a Senator from New York, though.
One marker of how well Obama might do against Kirk was seen in a 2012 Public Polling Policy survey that had her up 51 percent to Kirk's 40 percent.
Further, by 2016 eldest daughter Malia will be in college while her youngest, Sasha, will already be in high school, so both of Obama's children will be old enough to withstand a political campaign by another one of their parents.
Despite several years' worth of rumors – some were saying she would run for office in 2012, as well – both Barack and Michelle have shot down rumors of Michelle's running for office.
President Obama himself denied rumors that his wife was going to run for public office. In an interview for Live with Michael and Kelly, for instance, the President told host Kelly Ripa, "One thing I can promise you is Michelle will not run for office."
In August last year, the First Lady herself tried to quash rumors that she might run for president, saying "absolutely not" to a run for the White House.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.