By Aaron Blake - 07/10/09 03:08 PM EDT
Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) announced Friday that he will not seek a full term in the Senate in 2010.
“I love serving in the United States Senate; make no mistake about that,” Burris said. “I love serving the people of Illinois; make no mistake about that.”
“Political races have become too expensive in this country,” Burris said.
Burris was appointed to President Obama’s former Senate seat earlier this year by then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) shortly before Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office on suspicion of corruption.
Since then, Burris has spent little time raising money for 2010 and has said his focus was on learning his duties in the Senate. He raised just $845 in the first quarter of 2009.
The former state attorney general and comptroller’s Senate tenure has been marked by controversy from the early going, as details began to leak out about his contacts with the governor’s office prior to his appointment.
Blagojevich has been accused by federal authorities of trying to sell the Senate seat, and Burris has said he tried to raise money for the governor during the time he was seeking the appointment.
Several big-name Democrats have suggested at one point or another that Burris resign, including his Illinois colleague and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D).
Burris probably wouldn’t have been elected to the seat anyway. Democrats already have state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the race, and businessman Chris Kennedy (D) is assembling a campaign. Burris has polled as low as the single digits in the Democratic primary, despite having decent name recognition from his past statewide posts and campaigns.
Even if he would have won the primary, Burris would have faced a difficult general-election match-up, likely against Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Kirk’s imminent entry into the race, which became apparent this week, makes the seat a prime GOP pickup opportunity.
Even if Burris wouldn’t have won the primary, his candidacy could have put national party leaders in the awkward position of choosing whether to support an African-American incumbent who had little chance of winning.
This story was updated at 3:23 p.m.