The people who have called on Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's resignation following his arrest Tuesday on corruption charges are aplenty including President-elect Barack Obama, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.
But what happens if he doesn't resign?
"Then we have no choice but to pursue impeachment," Quinn tells NPR's Robert Siegel.
If Blagojevich either voluntarily leaves office — "the preferred remedy," Quinn says — or is impeached, Quinn would fill the vacant seat in Springfield.
Because impeachment can be a long process, however, there is another alternative to kick Blagojevich out of office, Quinn says — a provision in the Illinois Constitution. The provision, allows any person — especially the state attorney general — to file a petition with the Illinois Supreme Court.
The state's high court would "determine whether or not the governor has an impediment to exercising his duties and carrying out his oath of office," Quinn says.
"This has never been done in our state — it is however in the constitution," he says. "We are in a crisis and if things are not going to get resolved either by the governor voluntarily resigning, or the Legislature moving expeditiously to impeach him, I think the people would ask the attorney general to act according to this other clause."
The Testy Relationship
Even though he was on the same ticket as Blagojevich in 2006, Quinn ran separately in what he calls an "unusual system" in Illinois. In the primary, the lieutenant governor is nominated independently from the governor. But after the primary, the two join together on a ticket.
Blagojevich and Quinn did not have much of a relationship. Quinn says the last time he said more than a sentence or two to Blagojevich was on Aug. 2, 2007. There was a bill signing related to dam safety on rivers in Illinois, and Quinn says a "girl who was one of the chief advocates" of the bill invited him.
"I tried over and over again" to speak with Blagojevich, Quinn says. "The governor didn't want to speak to me or any other public officials in Illinois. He's rather insulated and isolated, and that's one of the problems we have."
Quinn also says he has publicly disagreed with Blagojevich on "important issues."
"This past year, for example, I was the chief advocate of putting a recall amendment into the Illinois Constitution that would allow the voters to recall the governor or other statewide officials from office before their term was up," Quinn says. "The governor was a strong opponent of recall."
Picking A New Senator
If Blagojevich resigns, that would put Quinn in the seat to name an Illinois senator to replace Obama when he is inaugurated as president Jan. 20. In seeking a senator, Quinn says, he would look for people of the "highest character and integrity, individuals who will be taxpayer and consumer advocates."
"There's a lot of talent in Illinois, and we'll find the best and that's the way to go," he says.
If picking a senator becomes his responsibility, Quinn says, he would stay clear of those people who were on Blagojevich's short list, including Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., Luis Gutierrez, Danny Davis and Jan Schakowsky; Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr.; and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who heads the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
"I think we don't want any taint at all to an appointment of a new U.S. senator from the state of Illinois, the land of Lincoln," Quinn says.
When asked if he was surprised that Blagojevich was caught on wiretaps allegedly trying to personally profit by selling the Senate seat to the highest bidder, Quinn says, "Not particularly, no."
"I was very unhappy to hear and read what I saw, and I think the governor should be very apologetic for saying and doing what he was doing," Quinn says. "But I think what we have to do now is plead with the governor to voluntarily resign and step aside, for his own benefit, for his family's benefit, for our state's benefit, and for our country."