[Ed. – It was less than a week ago that President Obama, during an all-important interview with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, confirmed that his wife was not running for office. “One thing I can promise you,” he said. “Michelle will not run for office.” We know how well Obama keeps his promises.]
Speculation about a possible political future for Michelle Obama has naturally centered on the White House. But that’s the wrong place — at least for now.
Illinois has a Republican senator, Mark Kirk, and he is up for reelection in 2016. He’ll be formidable, particularly given his brave recovery from a stroke. But Illinois is a heavily Democratic state, and the race could be close.
No Illinois Democratic candidate would bring the star power and nationwide fundraising capacity that Obama would.
She has proven herself a superb speaker on behalf of her pet projects and is now a veteran campaigner for her husband. She’s also remained highly popular — even as the president’s ratings have plummeted.
She could represent the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a desperately needed — and winnable — seat. A December 2012 Public Policy Polling survey put her ahead of Kirk, 51 percent to 40 percent. Democratic leaders’ pressure on her to run might get intense.
Obama has stepped up her recent fundraising — holding two events for Democrats just this week and creating valuable chits she can call in should she run for office.