Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), on trial on corruption charges, has been found guilty by a federal jury, but on just one of the 24 counts of which he was charged.
A Chicago jury said he was guilty of lying to the FBI. But as for the 23 other counts, which included racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud and an attempt to sell a vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder, the jury was deadlocked.
Federal Judge James Zagel said he would declare a mistrial on the 23 charges. Prosecutors said they would retry the former governor on those charges "as quickly as possible."
Blagojevich, a former Chicago congressman who was elected to the first of two terms as governor in 2002 -- replacing Republican George Ryan, who himself went to prison on corruption charges -- was impeached by the Illinois state legislature and removed from office in January 2009. He was succeeded in office by Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, a fellow Democrat.
Democrats had feared that a long, drawn out trial extended into the fall would seriously hamper their efforts to retain Quinn and keep the Senate seat, held by Barack Obama until he was elected president and currently represented by Roland Burris, who was appointed by Blagojevich. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has his own ethics problems, is the Democratic candidate in November.
Today's verdict spares the Democrats that distraction. And, for today at least, it's a victory of sorts for the ex-gov. But if the government retries its case, as it pledges to do, then the specter of Blagojevich hanging over the Illinois elections -- and hurting Democratic hopes in the process -- may not have gone away.