Burris gathers with supporters Sunday

Group rallies behind Roland Burris
March 1, 2009 8:11:55 AM PST
Sen. Roland Burris was set to address a crowd of supporters Sunday at a Chicago church.The day before, a group of ministers and community leaders rallied in support of Burris, while Governor Quinn reiterated his call on the embattled senator to resign.

Burris maintained his silence on the matter Saturday, but the voices of those defending him grew more vocal Saturday afternoon as a group of both African-American church and community leaders warned those calling for the embattled politician to resign to back off.

"Leave Senator Burris alone," said Pastor Walter Turner of Illinois Faith-based Initiative.

Saturday's 'Rolling With Roland' rally came as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the state legislature that they could pass a law that moves up the date of the next election for Pres. Barack Obama's former Senate seat. Many state Republicans want a May 26th election -- that would effectively boot Burris from office if he lost.

But while attending a black history ceremony in the South Loop, Gov. Pat Quinn said he still favors a special election and reiterated his opinion that his friend Roland Burris should step down.

"There's a lot of ways to serve. And I think at this time, I think picking a different avenue of service would be the best wasy to go Burris ought to go another route. That's the best way to go," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

Quinn is among the growing chorus of Illinois politicians and others calling on Burris to step down after questions began to arise over whether he was truthful about how he coveted the Senate appointment by now ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"No accusations have been proven against Roland Burris. Until that happens, he should stay right where he is," said Apostle Ulysses Ruff of Pastors of Englewood.

"Mr. Quinn just became governor. We're not going to take this laying down," community activist George Sims said.

Supporters say the attack on Burris is both about race and politics, and they see the attack on Burris as an attack on the black community by the Democratic party and others that won't be forgotten when election time comes.

"We are an educated people. We are a learned people, and we are people who know how to vote," said Pastor Turner.

Burris has not spoken to media since questions arose about whether he perjured himself when he appeared before the state legislative committee looking into whether to impeach then-Governor Blagojevich. He was not expected to answer questions from the media at Sunday's event.

Political pundits say, regardless of the motivation of either party, there are several important issues voters should consider. The state comptroller says Illinois is already $9 billion in debt, and a special election, which would really be two elections -- a primary and a general election -- could cost upwards of $30 million. Where is the money going to come from? It's a questions neither many Democrats nor Republicans have addressed fully.


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