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Hell, No, He Won’t Go January 7, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Barack Obama, Constitution, Democrats, National Politics, US Senate.
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Senate Hopeful Roland Burris
Senate Hopeful Roland Burris

Intensifying the constitutional drama unfolding in Washington, Roland Burris, the Rod Blagojevich Senate appointee from Illinois, presented himself yesterday to be sworn in.  In a piece of high political theater, Burris was turned away by Nancy Erickson, Secretary of the Senate.  Erickson explained that Burris’ paperwork was not in order – it lacked an endorsement by the Illinois Secretary of State.  Not pressing the point that the Secretary of State for Illinois has no constitutional veto power over the Governor’s appointment authority, Burris quietly left and met reporters outside the Capitol.   Appearing tired and beleaguered, Burris vowed to fight.  He has a legal challenge pending in Illinois and is considering a federal (Supreme Court) challenge.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed, as late as Sunday, that Burris will not be seated.  Though he expresses respect and admiration for Burris, he maintains that since Governor Blagojevich is tainted by corruption charges, his appointment of Burris is tainted.  In a late-breaking development yesterday, however, some key Senate Democrats have indicated a compromise is in order.  California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Rules Committee, has advised that Burris be seated.  Feinstein told reporters, “If you don’t seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America.  Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician. He has been attorney general, he has been controller, and he is very well-respected. I am hopeful that this will be settled.”   Burris has a meeting with Reid today to discuss the situation.

Most analysts agree that Reid’s offer of compromise will request a pledge by Burris not to seek reelection in 2010.  Burris has been asked in several interviews if that is a condition that he could agree to.  His answers are, invariably, no.  Burris has stated that he has no idea what he will want to do, or what conditions will warrant in 2010, and to make such a promise would be hypocritical.  Basically, his position is that the Senate will have to take him – without conditions – or he will drag this out in court.   That scenario is something that NOBODY wants or needs.

The Democratic leadership in the Senate outfoxed themselves on this one.  They were so certain that they could make Blago resign with his tail between his legs and they would have a nice, safe, blue Senate seat for as long as they wanted it.  They failed to deal with Blagojevich’s ego and flair for chutzpa.  They blustered and made threats, and Blago gleefully called their bluff with the Burris appointment.  There is real worry that Burris will not be able to be reelected and that the seat could fall to a Republican challenger.  The dirtier Blagojevich appears to be – the more likely this will play out. 

Roland Burris is 71 years old.  Who knows if he will even want to run for reelection in two years?  And if he does, who is really certain he will not win?  Burris’ attorneys made a point on Hardball with Chris Matthews yesterday that it is next to impossible to unseat a sitting US Senator.

It’s time to seat Burris.  Harry Reid needs to smile, swallow hard, and accept his appointment.  It’s not like Reid doesn’t have experience eating crow – look what he did for Traitor Joe Lieberman……

 

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