Published December 09, 2008
The following is a brief biography of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was first elected in 2002 and whose second term expires in January, 2011.
Born: Dec. 10, 1956, Chicago
Education: Northwestern University, B.A. 1979, Pepperdine University, J.D. 1983.
Religion: Eastern Orthodox
Marital Status: Married, wife Patti.
Elected Office: Illinois House of Representatives, 1992-96; U.S. House of Representatives, 1996-2002.
Professional Career: Practicing attorney, 1984-96; Assistant Cook County Attorney, 1986-88.
Rod Blagojevich was elected governor of Illinois in 2002, the first Democrat elected to the office since 1972.
He grew up in Chicago, the son of a Serbian immigrant who worked at the A. Finkl & Sons steel works on the North Side; his mother worked as a ticket-taker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
He lived in a five-room walkup near Cicero and Armitage and worked as a shoeshine boy and a dishwasher on the Alaskan pipeline.
Blagojevich graduated from Northwestern and Pepperdine Law School and was a Golden Gloves boxer.
He practiced law and worked two years in State's Attorney Richard M. Daley's office.
He got his start in politics through his father-in-law, 33d Ward Alderman and Democratic Ward Committeeman Richard Mell.
In 1988, he got a job on Mell's staff; in 1992 he was elected to the Illinois House.
His opportunity to run for the U.S. House came after Republican Michael Flanagan upset Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski in 1994. Flanagan, who had little backing, was obviously a one-termer. In 1996 Blagojevich outspent Flanagan and won 64 percent to 36 percent.
Blagojevich was first elected Illinois governor in 2002; he was re-elected in 2006.
Blagojevich had talked with Democratic allies about running for president as early as November 2002, but he made no moves to enter the 2008 race.
Source: Almanac of American Politics