Michelle Obama for U.S. Senate?

Michelle Obama for U.S. Senate?

[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.

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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.

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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.

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