Governor Rod Blagojevich has apppointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to Barack Obama’s vacated senate seat on December 30, 2008. A couple of weeks ago I took my car in for service at a dealership on 159th Street in Orland Park, Illinois. Former Attorney General Burris, who I believe would make an excellent United States Senator, was just a few feet from me as we were checking in our cars. My “advisor” as he was test driving my car after repairs told me, “Roland Burris is seeking the Senate seat.” I said I heard that but I wonder if that is possible given the “politiking” going on.
Governor Blagojevich, who has not been indicted or convicted of any criminal misconduct, has a history of making astute political decisions. Giving seniors free riding passes on the Chicago Transit Authority, attempting heroically to cover Illinois children with health insurance and his rather significant effort to purchase Canadian pharmaceuticals at discounted prices.
I think his appointment of Attorney General Burris is quite remarkable. It is his right under the state of Illinois constitution and his way of asserting that political witchunts by the headline-hunting US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and the unseemly campaign to unseat him by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Lt Governor Pat Quinn will not deter him from his responsibilities. Most thought the governor would eschew making an appointment and that the impeachment proceedings in the Illinois House would cow him into submission. Illinois needs a senator and Roland Burris would be a mainstream Democrat not given to histrionics or sensational pr campaigns such as Represenative Jesse Jackson Jr of the second congressional district or Jan Schakowsky of the ninth congressional district. He is also a historic figure being the first African-American to win statewide office in 1979 when elected comptroller in Illinois.
Also there is no evidence that Chief of Staff-Designate Rahm Emmanuel lobbied for Mr Burris as he did for the other two representatives. In addition there is no evidence that any quid pro quo ever arose between the governor and Mr Burris. Mr Burris is a modest individual, of little pretense and would serve Illinois well in the senate. As an African-American this would insure that a capable minority would represent Illinois and that at least one United States Senator would be representative of that ethnic group.
I think Governor Blagojevich is acting with principle, honour and integrity with this particular action in filling a vacant senate seat in the “Adopted Land of Lincoln.”