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.