Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) sure messed up the Dems’ talking points. She said Roland Burris should be seated, making the obvious point that the gubernatorial appointment power risks becoming a nullity if the Senate can reject appointees despite meeting all of the legal requirements. So now the search is on for a face-saving out for poor Harry Reid.
Roland Burris heads into a pivotal meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin on Wednesday with an unmistakable sense of momentum.
He’s now got a top Senate Democrat on his side, a growing chorus of Congressional Black Caucus members backing him and an apparent edge in pending lawsuits.
Burris’ Senate appointment by Gov. Rod Blagojevich has caused an uproar because Blagojevich has been charged with trying to sell that Senate seat, vacated by Barack Obama.
The key question now for Reid and Durbin: How do they find cover in a political story that has run amok? One idea being considered is to have Burris win an endorsement from the sitting lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, one Democratic insider said.
A Democratic aide familiar with the process said that the idea of urging Quinn to endorse Burris is being seriously considered, and that strategy may emerge depending on the outcome of the meeting. Democrats are also considering urging Burris to not run in 2010 as one condition for their support, aides said.
In an interview with Politico on Tuesday, Reid said he would support a Quinn appointment, even if it was Burris.
“What should happen, Blagojevich – if he really cared about his state and cared about Mr. Burris – should just step down and let Quinn do what Quinn would do,” said Reid, who has spoken to Quinn in recent days. “Whoever Quinn appointed, unless there were something I don’t understand, I just think anybody that he suggested … they’d all be fine.”
Another out for Democrats: If Burris wins his state lawsuit and the Illinois secretary of state is forced to certify his appointment, Senate leaders could say their hand has been forced and they have to follow the order of the court.
Might as well start printing up the “Senator Burris” stationery!
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