With Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White starting to distance himself from his refusal to sign the certificate of appointment, with Senate Democrats starting to splinter, with key members of the Congressional Black Caucus calling for Burris to be seated, and with Harry Reid making conciliatory noises after their meeting, I’d say the odds are heavily in favor of Roland Burris becoming the next U.S. senator from Illinois.
How did Rod Blagojevich manage this? He knew that if he picked a respected black politician, there was virtually no way that the Senate Democratic leadership could stand by its refusal to seat a senator he appointed. By bringing in Bobby Rush and making the race issue explicit, he pretty much sealed the deal. Burris was a perfect choice — credentialed and respectable enough to be a plausible candidate, desperate enough to take a Blagojevich appointment (Burris has lost races for governor, senator, and mayor of Chicago and is now 71). Burris’s decision to take a high media profile while confidently asserting that the law is on his side has also helped move momentum in his direction.
Although things could still change and Reid might find a way to keep Burris from serving as a voting senator for the next two years, it looks like Blago won this round. He didn’t get any obvious financial reward, but he proved that he still held the powers of the governor’s office and forced the ball in his detractors’ court. In other words, he didn’t just f–king give the Senate seat away for nothing. It’s a very valuable thing.
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