Is “Senate candidate 5” Obama’s state senate mentor?

“We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator.”

With these taped words, Gov. Blagojevich may have placed a major Illinois political figure — Senate Candidate 5 — in legal jeopardy. But who is Senate Candidate 5″?

Ben Smith of The Politico tells us that, based on the tape, the mystery candidate answers to the following description:

-publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat

– not who Blagojevich thought Obama wanted

– not someone with whom, by November 10, Blagojevich had a “long, productive discussion”

– someone with fundraising wherewithal who could produce something “tangible up front”

– someone Blago was “getting a lot of pressure” not to appoint

– someone with whom Blago had “a prior bad experience…not keeping his word”

Speculation centers around two prominent African-American politicians, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Emil Jones, president of the Illinois State Senate. Smith notes, though, that Jackson isn’t particularly known as a fundraising specialist, whereas Jones has money in his State Senate account that could be transferred to Blagojevich.

Jones and Obama had a close relationship when Obama served in the Illinois State Senate. It was Jones who eventually took Obama under his wing and made sure that key pieces of legislation developed by others had Obama’s name on them. Thus, it’s interesting if true (this is speculation upon speculation) that Obama didn’t want his old mentor to get a U.S. Senate seat. It’s also understandable, inasmuch as Jones (like Obama for that matter) is connected to Tony Rezko.

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