Chicago Sun-Times
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Burris proclaims, "We are the senator." Wants to avoid media circus over Obama seat.


WASHINGTON -- Roland Burris, being Roland Burris, put it to me this way Friday when we talked: "We are the senator."

And we, that is he, the former Illinois attorney general, told me that he will try to avoid making a scene when he comes to the Capitol on Tuesday to claim the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Burris is arriving in town Monday night.

"There is no confrontation here, there is no antagonism here," Burris said in a phone interview from Chicago. "And so we are proceeding very diplomatically, and we are proceeding with all concern about not creating any type of circus that will entertain the media."

The new Senate will be sworn in Tuesday. Senate Democrats don't want to give Burris the oath of office because he was appointed by Gov. Blagojevich, who is facing federal public corruption charges for trying to sell the Obama seat in a variety of schemes.

The Senate faces a chaotic week, with the Minnesota Senate race recount now favoring Democrat Al Franken, the comic, over the GOP incumbent, Sen. Norm Coleman; the mess over the Obama seat, and Caroline Kennedy in play to replace Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's pick for secretary of state.

Burris told me that he talked to Sen. Dick Durbin -- the assistant majority leader -- on Friday, and they will seek a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and others in the next week -- day uncertain -- "and then see what their positions are, and we will take it from there."

Terry Gainer, the Senate sergeant at arms -- the former director of the Illinois State Police who goes back years with Burris from their Springfield days -- told me Friday that they are prepared for Burris to come knocking on the Senate door.

"I do not believe there will be any physical confrontation. The Senate is not that kind of institution, and Burris is not that type of leader ... there will be a businesslike resolution to what occurs on Tuesday," Gainer said.

Pending final resolution, it's possible Burris will get some office space, a limited staff and maybe even be put on some kind of payroll. Though the senators may allow him on the floor, to hang around in the back, Burris could not vote or sit behind one of the desks in the Senate chamber.

Burris also revealed that Durbin advised him -- before it was offered -- not to take a Blagojevich appointment.

Durbin, said Burris, "said don't take the seat, he had said that, certainly, and I took that into consideration." Burris said a reason he accepted the offer from Blagojevich was "to take this issue off the plate of the people of Illinois, and they can go on with other problems."

He also ruled out a caretaker role; Burris said he would likely run in 2010 to keep the seat if his appointment sticks.

FOOTNOTE: I said in Thursday's column that Burris did not return messages Durbin left him on his cell phone because he hadn't nailed down the message feature. Burris said I was wrong, he just had a lot of messages.


I look foward to the 110th -congress seating of Senator Roland Burris. Any senate that will seat Bird of West VA. , Stevens of ALASKA should recieve Mr. Burris with open arms. What is wrong with a white governor nominating a Black to replace a Black man in the U.S. Senate? Will there be the same problem when the Black Govenor of Nwe York nominates Kennedy? Just food for thought!!!!!!!!!!!!

Does Burris have his head up his butt? The people of ILLINOIS have the say in who is our next Senator,he was rejected by us before. I don't care if we have another black replacement just not BURRIS!

"We are the senator"? I thought only kings/queens and popes ever referred to themselves as "we", and even they don't do that anymore. Sheesh. But, having an inflated ego is no crime nor does it disqualify one for public office.

The Senate should take time to investigate whether or not any funny business was involved with Burris' appointment. If they find no evidence of any wrongdoing on Burris' part, they should go ahead and seat him.

If by that time Pat Quinn has become governor, I would suggest Quinn reaffirm the appointment, or just do nothing and let it stand. There's only a year left until the primaries anyway, and if Burris did nothing wrong, I don't think it's worth the trouble to try to keep Burris out of the Senate solely because of what Blago did.

i think the people of illinois should be totally disappointed with our legislature that we should amend the constitution to include the amendment to limit terms. we should have recall power. i am disappointed in our govenor who should live in springfield

Once again, the race card is still being used. I'm black, from Chicago, and I don't see ANY reasonable person, of ANY color, ANYWHERE, wanting to pick Burris simply because of his color. AND thats pretty bold for Burris and Bobby Rush to think being black makes a difference. He wasn't accepted by the people of Illinois the last few times he ran for office, and the fact that Blago picks someone who donated thousands of dollars to his campaign, proves he still wants to elect someone who filled HIS pockets.
As far as Blagojevich is concerned, it was bad enough extortioning wrigley field and the tribune's editors for speaking out against him, but to extort a Children's Hospital, cancelling their funding if they dont send money to his campaign, is just TOO low for me! He DID pick a good target though, because he knows that hospital's board isn't going to risk letting kids die for lack of state funds, by not giving him contributions, so of course the Hospital's going to be forced to contribute to him. Thats just the lowest political move a person cam make, period!
His appointment shouldnt count, because his INTENDED acts is no different than, lets say, a pedophile who intended to solicit a 12 year old, even if the pedo is busted by the cops before it actually happened. He intended to sell a U.S. Senate position to just anybody who'll pay him $$$, and got busted before it happened.

To Buck in Birmingham: Buck, with me it has nothing to do with race. I don't want Burris for other reasons. He's a machine-political hack. As Atty. General he did a pitiful job. You aren't familiar with the Nicarico case, are you? A little girl murdered in DuPage County. They put the wrong people in jail. A hispanic named Cruz. Anyway, to make a long story short, the real killer (Dugan) confessed. Guess what, Burris still wanted to hang Cruz. And made that the hallmark of his failed governor's run. Oh yeah, as Atty. General he sat back and did nothing on consumer fraud cases, pollution cases, etc. And sat back while a racist cop named Jon Burge was torturing confessions out of people. So spare me the race-card, please.

Sounds like the Blue Dog Demirats don't want a person appointed to the Senate who might try to keep them from continuing to help the Republicans wreck the country.
I'd like to see Roland Burris take the seat, he sounds honest, capable, and intelligent!

Mr. Burris Does not represent the Ideals or intrests of the people of Illinois. He is a threat to our legal system and to the system in general. How, you ask? Does anyone rember the case of Rolando Cruiz, The man that was wrongfully convicted and put on death row by Burris even after his top deputies resigned after they were very clear that he was an innocent man. DNA evidence later exonerated the man. Mr. Burris never even apologized for wasting ten years of the man's life on death row, waiting to die for something he didn't even do. This is not the type of person to represent Illinois. This is the type of person that represents what Illinois has become not what it should be. When we first elected Mr. Obama it was out of respect and the fact that he did represent every Illinois resident with their best intrests in mind. Mr. Burris on the other hand only sees political and personal gain in this situation. He does not care about the people of Illinois and his record has proved this again and again. He has never walked the streets in protest with the people, he thinks he's better than the people with his crypt and his govoner buddy. Isn't falsely causing a man to be sentenced to death a murder plot in itself?
Let's "accidently" put Mr. Burris on death row for ten years then we'll talk about justice.

Hmmmm this is just another example of what is wrong with politics today first off Burris was well aware of how no one was going to be accepted that the gov. would appoint . So what is it ? is this man soo hungry for power that he belives he is above both public oppion and political party stand to not turn down this appointment ? We all know he has run for this seat before and the people had spoken and it was a clear vote of NO we didn't think he was right for the job so now he has the chance to sneak in without anyones vote except for the gov. and bobby rush who I don't think carries much weight even when they try to push the white guilt angle. My question is this just why is most all the Blacks that run for office either radical's or fommer members of terroist groups as Burris was a member of the Black Panthers who by todays standard was a terrorist group as was Bobby Rush and yet they wonder why there was only one black in the senate I also wonder just what did the lebenese men who where trying to raise the money to buy the seat for Jessie Jacksons Jr expect to get in return for their investment and what does the gov. expect in return from Burris

I'm from out of state (Massachusetts), and have no idea of Mr. Burris' background. But if he honestly doesn't see the problem with his appointment by a governor who is under indictment for trying to sell the seat, then he doesn't have the intellect to be a US Senator. And if he did indeed get the seat illegally, as most people in the country will believe, then he can go to hell. As a country, we've suffered enough under corrupt politicians in the last eight years.

I also understand that he has lost many previous elections in Illinois. This would feel like a slap in the face to his constituents.

I feel that Roland Burris should be allowed to perform as the Senator of Illinois. OK, so he was appointed by a 'tainted' govenor. BUT HE IS STILL THE GOVENOR! And while he is still the govenor, he appointed Roland Burris who has a clean record (probably someone will try to dig up some so-called dirt) but anyway, he has been a public servant for many years and deserve to be the SENATOR. I wish him well and will be in prayer because he deserves it!

Let's try using the appropriate tool to analyze this situation: reason. Most of the preceding comments, frankly, are driven by emotion, illogic, or personal preference. Governor Blagojevich is, in fact, undisputably the sitting Governor of the State of Illinois. This remains true despite the allegations against him or the apparent baseness of his moral character.

There is no law or regulation that anyone has cited that precludes the Governor from doing what he did: choosing Roland Burris to occupy the Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Obama. Indeed, the law expressly empowers the Governor, under the legal circumstances relevant to this situation, to fill the vacancy. The depth of the Governor's gall, his putative or actual intent to have sold the Senate seat to the highest bidder, as the color of the sox each reader is wearing right now, are all irrelevant to the analysis of the legality of the Governor's appointment of Roland Burris to the Senate. Equally as irrelevant is the fact that Burris has been unable to win a Senate seat or the appearance of "evil" or "taint" some choose to assign to the appointment. References to the Cruz decision in this context are distracting emotional outburst and unfocused moralizing. They illuminate nothing legally relevant to assessing the legitimacy of the Governors act.

Burris now has a seat in the United States Senate, because the duly elected, and legally extant, Governor has appointed him. It is that straightforward folks, get used to it. Burris will get the seat. Mark my words.

Thanks for making it clear Mark A. Smith I'm glad that there are still people amongst us that demonstrate the intellect to look at a simple fact without blowing it out into 'personal' opinions. In the real world it is the LAW that decides outcomes not what each of us think.

Questioning the LAW or stating one's personal opinions is a different topic altogether. Is the world always fair?....I don't think so!

Burris made his living off of ''affirmative action'' / reverse discrimination in which he was paid by tax payers to ''investigate'' and ensure that companies that wanted to do business with the state were NON-WHITE owned.
He is a shame and the racial overtones of his buddy Bobby Rush are no accident, that how Burris made his living and its the only tactic he knows how to gain office. Now he want to ''represent'' the people he was paid to racially discriminate against?..hell no!

Burris should not be seated. Sending an innocent man to death row and leaving him there for ten years even after DNA has cleared him is evil. Burris is evil, and he should be in jail.

This is NOT the change I voted for!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 3, 2009 11:00 AM.

Reid pressed Blagojevich on Obama replacement in Senate. For: Duckworth, Madigan. Against: Jackson, Jones, Davis UPDATE Reid statement was the previous entry in this blog.

Richardson withdraws as Commerce Secretary; NM pay-to-play probe held up confirmation is the next entry in this blog.

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