Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: The Burris Endgame

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Burris Endgame

When last we checked in on Roland Burris, he didn't quite have the precise paperwork the Senate was demanding for him to be seated. Dick Durbin was suggesting that maybe it would be better for everybody to simply wait until the Rod Blagojevich impeachment had run its course. It was just the latest reversal since Blagojevich was first arrested for trying to sell the empty Senate seat. Democratic senators had vowed en masse that they wouldn't seat whatever candidate Blago named, and they stood by that for a little while after Blago actually put his imprimatur on Burris. But then when Burris actually showed up and demanded to be seated, Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership started to waiver. Okay, they relented, maybe we'll seat Burris if he can complete a couple of simple tasks. The first really was simple: that Burris testify before the Illinois House committee investigating Blago. The second, though, easy as it may have seemed, proved more complicated. Burris needed to get the Illinois secretary of state to sign off on his appointment. But Jesse White had refused and intended to continue to refuse to add his signature to Burris's paperwork. That's where we left off, with Durbin saying maybe it wasn't such a done deal after all.

It should hardly come as a surprise now, of course, that the Senate Democrats have caved completely (they had to do something to prove they were still Senate Democrats, didn't they?). Burris was able to get White to sign a reasonable enough facsimile that Reid and Durbin set aside their reservations and decided to welcome him with open arms. He'll be sworn in on Thursday.

So what next? Not much, is my guess. While he'll be one more vote for the Democrats (and their almost almost filibuster-proof majority), he'll otherwise be pretty invisible, I suspect. He'll have almost no seniority, and he'll never fully escape the Blago stain that got him where he is (or soon will be). I'll be very surprised if Burris doesn't run for a full term in two years. State Republicans are already licking their chops to get a crack at him. Congressman Mark Kirk seems particularly eager. But I don't think he'll have a chance to go after Burris. Burris will undoubtedly be challenged in the primary, and there's absolutely no evidence that he'll have what it takes to win. He was on MSNBC this morning and pointed out that he's never lost a statewide race to a Republican. That's not incorrect, but we should also note that he hasn't won a statewide race in almost twenty years--he was elected attorney general in 1990. Since then, he's lost statewide races to Democrats (he's gone down in three attempts to be the Democratic nominee for governor), which prevents him from even facing Republicans. I suspect the same pattern will hold if he attempts to hang on to this seat.


At 12:53 AM, January 15, 2009, Blogger Stuart Shea said...

I hope you're right.


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