Roland Burris was appointed by Gov. Blagojevich to fill Barack Obama’s senate seat but Mr. Obama is against the governor’s appointment



In a surprise announcement, Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois appointed Roland W. Burris to Barack Obama’s vacant position in the United States Senate.

At a press conference on December 30, 2008, Gov. Blagojevich called Mr. Burris “a senior statesman of the state of Illinois.” 

Governor Blagojevich added: “Please don’t let the allegations against me taint this good and honest man.”

A 16 minute video of the press conference from the web site of C-Span is found at this link:

Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) spoke on Mr. Burris’ behalf at the press conference.

“I will ask you to not hang and lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer,” Rep. Rush said.

Burris, 71, currently runs a political consulting firm that bears his name (Burris and Lebed Consulting) and is senior counsel at the Chicago law firm of Gonzalez Saggio Harlan.  His appointment  must be certified by the Illinois Secretary of State  Jesse White and accepted by the United States Senate. 

Secreary of State White said that he will not certify Mr. Burris “because of the cloud of controversy surrounding the governor.”   Even if Mr. Burris is certified by the  secretary of state, Mr. Burris is likely to have a difficult time being accepted into the Senate because President Elect Barack Obama is against the governor’s appointment.  Mr. Obama issued a statment that read:

Roland Burns is a good man and a fine public service, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they can not accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat.  I agree with  their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it.  I believe that the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place.  While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy.

Mr. Obama was the only African American member of the Senate.  Burris is also an African American.

Mr. Burris’ last government job was that of attorney general of the state of Illinois from 1991-95.   (While attorney general, he was chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General.)  He ran against Richard M. Daley for mayor of Chicago in 1995 but was defeated. 

Lost elections are nothing new to Mr. Burris.  His other disappointments in elections: an unsuccesful run for a state house position in 1968, defeated in a campaign for comptroller of the state of Illinois in 1974, turned away by voters in his bid for the United States Senate in 1984 (he lost to Paul Simon in the primary; Rep. Rahm Emanuel worked on Mr. Simon’s campaign) and three primary election losses in runs for Governor in 1994, 1998 and 2002.   (In 2002, he lost to Gov. Blagojevich. )

Mr. Burris was the vice chairperson of the Democratic National Committee from 1985-89.  He was comptroller of  the state of Illinois from 1979-91.  When he was successful in his 1978 campaign for comptroller, he became the first African-American to win a statewide office in Illinois.

Mr. Burris was born in Centralia, Ilinois on Aug. 3, 1931.  He obtained a B.A. in political science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a J.D. in 1963 from Howard University.  He is married to Berlean M. Burris, Ph.D.

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One Response to “Roland Burris was appointed by Gov. Blagojevich to fill Barack Obama’s senate seat but Mr. Obama is against the governor’s appointment”

  1. coffee fiend Says:

    it’s interesting how Blagojevich seems so unaffected by all the chaos swirling around him; it’s as if he feels right at home…

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