Roland Burris was denied entry to the Senate floor today as he tried to take the Illinois Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. If the Republicans tried something similar with a distinguished African-American politician who would be the only black senator, they’d surely be compared to Democrat George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door. As I write today in my column on the main site, Bobby Rush may make sure Harry Reid doesn’t get off any easier.
As Doug notes below, the Democratic leadership has tipped its hand with a possible compromise that’s being floated in the press: they might be willing to seat Burris if he agrees not to run in the 2010 election. This suggests that some Democratic senators are more worried that Burris wouldn’t be able to hold the seat in two years than about the taint of Rod Blagojevich’s appointment. (Not that Illinois Democrats have had any problems voting against Burris in primaries in recent years.) There is also the possibility that they will ask Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn to endorse the appointment to lessen the taint.
The speculation that the Democrats might allow Burris to serve as a placeholder for two years but not run in the 2010 election comes after reports that Harry Reid lobbied against appointing Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., Congressman Danny Davis, or State Senate President Emil Jones, who are all black. His preferences were Attorney General Lisa Madigan and former congressional candidate and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who are not black.