Ill. Lt. Gov. Steps In After Blagojevich Impeachment Pat Quinn has been sworn in as Illinois' new governor, replacing Rod Blagojevich who was ousted on charges of abuse of power. Quinn is considered a reformer and a political maverick, an outsider even in his own party.
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Ill. Lt. Gov. Steps In After Blagojevich Impeachment

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Ill. Lt. Gov. Steps In After Blagojevich Impeachment

Ill. Lt. Gov. Steps In After Blagojevich Impeachment

Ill. Lt. Gov. Steps In After Blagojevich Impeachment

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Pat Quinn has been sworn in as Illinois' new governor, replacing Rod Blagojevich who was ousted on charges of abuse of power. Quinn is considered a reformer and a political maverick, an outsider even in his own party.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Unidentified Woman: I, Patrick Joseph Quinn.

(SOUNDBITE OF SWEARING IN OF GOVERNOR PAT QUINN)

PAT QUINN: Unidentified Woman: Do solemnly swear.

QUINN: Do solemnly swear.

NORRIS: That I will support the Constitution of the United States.

QUINN: Unidentified Woman: And the Constitution of the state of Illinois.

QUINN: And the Constitution of the state of Illinois.

NORRIS: And that I will faithfully discharge.

QUINN: Unidentified Woman: The duties.

QUINN: Unidentified Woman: Of the office of governor.

QUINN: Unidentified Woman: To the best of my ability.

QUINN: Unidentified Woman: Congratulations, Governor Quinn.

QUINN: Thank you very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

NORRIS: Quinn is considered a reformer and a political maverick, an outsider even in his own party. When the corruption scandal began, Quinn urged Blagojevich to temporarily step aside. And later he called for his resignation. After taking the oath today, Governor Quinn said the state's ordeal is over.

QUINN: In this moment, our hearts are hurt, and it is very important that all of us understand that we have a duty, a mission to restore the faith of the people of Illinois in the integrity of our government and to make sure that all of our elected officials have the confidence of the voters.

NORRIS: NPR's Cheryl Corley joins us now from Springfield. Cheryl, tell me more about Pat Quinn. What specific credentials does he bring to this office?

CHERYL CORLEY: Now he is the governor. He has served, like I said, in several positions in the city, as a revenue director for the city of Chicago, he served in a Cook County position on the tax appeals board, been the Illinois state treasurer, and lieutenant governor, of course, here in Illinois. And has made a name for himself working with families of the Illinois National Guard and reservists helping members of the armed services.

NORRIS: Cheryl, you noted that he's a political maverick, but is he at all tainted by having run with Governor Blagojevich?

CORLEY: And in 2006, it's interesting that then-Governor Blagojevich said at one point that Patrick Quinn wasn't even a part of his administration. And Pat Quinn has said recently the relationship that they've had has been estranged at best. He said that that they haven't even spoken to each other for about a year.

NORRIS: What are the biggest challenges that he's going to face now as governor?

CORLEY: Well, what he says is the first problem he's going to face is restoring the state's integrity and really making sure that the state has honest government. One of his hugest problems, though, is going to be the state deficit. By some accounts, it's as high as five billion dollars. Apparently Governor Quinn is going to ask the general assembly to push back the annual budget address by a month in order to get some breathing room to work on this problem, but it's something that he has inherited. And the state has a huge stack of unpaid bills that he's going to have to work with other state elected officials here to solve.

NORRIS: Cheryl Corley, thanks so much.

CORLEY: You're quite welcome.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Cheryl Corley speaking to us from Springfield, Illinois.

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Illinois Senate Votes To Oust Blagojevich

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich addresses the state Senate during his impeachment trial Thursday in Springfield. Blagojevich has been accused by federal authorities of corruption, including offering to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Obama. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich addresses the state Senate during his impeachment trial Thursday in Springfield. Blagojevich has been accused by federal authorities of corruption, including offering to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Obama.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Meet Pat Quinn

If Rod Blagojevich was vain and over the top, the new Illinois governor, Pat Quinn, 60, is a mostly humor-challenged pol. He is an outsider who spent many years, and many elections, trying to make it on the inside. He champions the little guy, the powerless, with his longtime support for citizen initiatives, and has spent a career battling special interests.

Read more about Pat Quinn.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was removed from office Thursday after the state Senate voted 59-0 to find him guilty of abuse of power at his impeachment trial in Springfield.

Senators also voted unanimously to bar Blagojevich, a Democrat in his second term, from ever again holding public office in Illinois.

Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn promptly took the oath of office to become the new governor.

"The ordeal is over," Quinn told lawmakers.

The vote came nearly two months after his arrest on corruption charges that included allegations that he tried to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. Following a political sideshow in Washington, D.C., his subsequent choice for the seat, Democrat Roland Burris, became the state's new U.S. senator.

Blagojevich made a last stand Thursday, appearing before state legislators for the first time to insist that they had no proof that he was involved in any illegal activity.

Blagojevich's statement represented his closing argument at a trial that he had boycotted until Thursday, saying the proceedings were biased against him.

"You haven't proved a crime and you haven't given me a chance to disprove a crime," Blagojevich said during a rambling speech that lasted nearly an hour.

Blagojevich, 52, has been under pressure to resign since he was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges of solicitation of bribery and conspiracy, but he has repeatedly maintained that he did nothing wrong. The Illinois House impeached him on Jan. 9, setting the stage for the Senate trial.

The governor attacked the impeachment process throughout, saying it was "rigged."

Last month, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked state legislators not to call witnesses who might be involved in the criminal investigation, and they agreed to comply with his request. But Thursday, the governor asked state senators to further investigate the allegations against him or else allow him to call witnesses to address the alleged criminal activity.

"How can you throw a governor out of office who is clamoring and begging and pleading with you to bring witnesses in and prove his innocence?" he said. "Let me show you that I'm innocent, and I didn't do anything wrong."

House-appointed prosecutor David Ellis has tried since Monday to show that Blagojevich abused his power as governor. Before resting his case on Wednesday, Ellis played recordings of government-intercepted conversations in which the governor allegedly demanded campaign contributions in exchange for signing legislation.

Ellis also called witnesses, including an FBI agent, who vouched for the accuracy of excerpts of some of Blagojevich's conversations, which were included in the federal criminal complaint.

The complaint and an accompanying affidavit, which were included in the articles of impeachment, allege Blagojevich was involved in a number of corrupt acts, including a scheme to trade an appointment to President Obama's vacant Senate seat for money, contributions or a lucrative job.

Blagojevich's Senate speech occasionally rambled far from the issue at hand.

At one point, he recounted his life story as the son of immigrants and told of his Serbian father's internment in a Nazi prison camp. In contrast, "I have been blessed to live the American dream," he said.

Before Blagojevich gave his closing arguments, Ellis said the governor was guilty of widespread abuse of power.

"The governor's own words demonstrated, time and time again, that he saw his ability to appoint a U.S. senator as a golden goose, as a bargaining chip to be leveraged for his own personal and political well-being," he said.

Blagojevich has been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and solicitation of bribery in connection with a deal involving the Illinois Finance Authority. So far, a grand jury has not issued an indictment, and no trial date has been set.

Earlier this week, Blagojevich took his case to the public in a media blitz that had him appearing on numerous talk and news shows from Good Morning, America to Larry King Live.

NPR's David Schaper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.