BY ABDON M. PALLASCH
Sun-Times Political Reporter
CHICAGO--In his first public appearance in Chicago in months, U.S. Sen. Roland Burris said he's having "a blast" in the Senate, and if any court orders a "special election" to cut short his term by a month or two, Burris will find a way to be a candidate.
"I'll tell you one thing: If there is a special election, I'm announcing my candidacy right now, I'm going to run!" Burris said.
Actually, under the scenario envisioned by lawyers fighting for a special election, party leaders would chose the candidates for the special election, more likely Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk than Burris.
After he was criticized for allegedly changing his story about how he won appointment to the Senate by former Gov. Blagojevich, Burris retreated to the political bunker and has not made public appearances in the Chicago area the way Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin does.
On Friday, when Burris and Durbin appeared outside the Chicago Board of Trade to laud passage of the Wall Street Reform bill, Burris made clear he was still bitter about the coverage of his controversial appointment last year.
"Why don't you all report the truth for me?" Burris asked. "All this stuff about Burris is 'Pay to Play,' Burris 'lied' to get seated. I haven't done anything wrong -- that's the truth."
Would he have liked a full term in the Senate?
"I would love to spend one term in the United States Senate as I was hoping to do but your colleagues in the media made that almost impossible [with] what they put out to the public of Illinois: They took 30 years of my great career and just smashed it into 'Burris is some type of a...' How shall I say it? "... some type of a dishonest person.' I've never been dishonest."
Burris testified to the state House of Representatives' impeachment committee that he had only one conversation with a Blagojevich aide about the seat. Later he remembered speaking to several Blagojevich aides. And then Burris remembered telling Blagojevich's brother he'd like to help the governor raise money.
Burris said he has had a hand in the Wall Street legislation, the Health Care reform bill, small business legislation and attempts to reform the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policies.
A court case seeking to force a special election instead of just letting Blagojevich's appointee, Burris, serve a full two years has dragged on to the point that the earliest a special election could be held is Election Day, Nov. 2 -- not time enough to hold a primary.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the major party nominees, Giannoulias and Kirk, both say a special election to serve out the last month or two of Burris' term is ill-conceived but the judge in the case says he thinks the law requires it.