Mayor Roland Burris? Nope, he’s out
One would have thought that Sen. Roland Burris (D) would leave Washington and come
home to Chicago and just keep quiet. His boneheaded decision to lobby Gov. Rod Blagojevich
(D) for an appointment to Barack Obama’s Senate seat landed Burris the appointment,
but ruined his reputation. Blago was soon arrested and impeached, and the FBI released
tapes of Burris appearing to offer Blago a donation and a fundraiser in exchange
for the seat.
The Democrats tried to deny Burris the seat until the optics of barring an elderly
African-American from a body in which he would be the only African-American became
So Burris, now 73, was seated in early 2009. There was no way he could run for a
full term — no money, no support, no respect — and then a judge ruled that whoever
was elected senator from Illinois on Nov. 2, 2010, would take the seat immediately.
The Burris appointment was a key factor in the Democrats losing Obama’s Senate seat
to the Republicans. Newly installed Sen. Mark Kirk (R) looks to be a fairly safe
vote for Mitch McConnell. (On Saturday, Kirk voted against breaking his party’s
filibuster to bring the DREAM Act to the floor for a vote, but voted for the repeal
of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”)
So one would have thought that even Roland Burris, claiming that unnamed people
were imploring him to run for mayor of Chicago, would have said, “I’m flattered,
but my family needs me” or “It’s time to sit back and reflect and write my memoir.”
But no. he seemed ready to roll.
If Burris was raising money or scoring endorsements, it was a well-kept secret.
The latest poll (from
the Chicago Tribune/WGN) showed him
at 2 percent. (For comparison’s sake, Rahm Emanuel was at 32 percent and Carol Moseley
Braun, also a former and controversial U.S. senator from Illinois — she lost to
a Republican after one term — was at 6.)
On Friday, via press
release, Burris announced that he would not run: “I will not be offering myself
as a candidate for mayor of Chicago.”
So what’s on the agenda for Burris now? I had suggested in February 2009 that if
he would just change his mind about taking the Senate seat, perhaps he could wrangle
an appointment to Obama’s Cabinet. (I proposed
secretary of Commerce, because Obama seemed to be having trouble filling that slot.)
suggested an ambassadorship to some insignificant country.
Today there is no country or Cabinet post insignificant enough for Burris. Imagine
confirmation hearings for a man who was rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee.
(He was issued a public “qualified admonition” for behavior that “reflected unfavorably
on the Senate … You should have know that you were providing incorrect, inconsistent,
misleading … information … about your appointment to the Senate.”)
So it looks like Burris will have plenty of time to fuss with his famous tombstone,
making sure the line for U.S. senator looks sufficiently grand. Then there are the
legal bills presumably still outstanding for his fight to take the Senate seat.
And I suppose former Sen. Burris can tinker with endorsing one of the other half-dozen
or so candidates vying to replace Rich Daley.
The big question: Would any of them want his endorsement?