Burris controversy continues

March 2, 2009 4:55:38 PM PST
The primary election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Roland Burris is less than a year away. Despite repeated calls for Burris to resign, there's no indication that he will step down. Now, the state treasurer is considering tossing his name into the race.The primary election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Roland Burris is less than a year away. Despite repeated calls for Burris to resign, there's no indication that he will step down. Now, the state treasurer is considering tossing his name into the race.

Governor Quinn's first meeting of the day was with black elected officials on the city's West Side who told the governor to stop the repeated calls for the resignation of Senator Roland Burris.

"We have advised the governor to leave it alone and he has agreed to," said Alderman Emma Mitts, 37th Ward.

"Now he understands that Roland Burris is not going to resign. He is the senator and he needs to be moving the state forward," said Sen. Rickey Hendon, (D) Chicago.

When the meeting ended, Quinn had agreed to back off.

"But I don't want to be talking every day about something that i have no control over," said Gov. Pat Quinn, (D) Illinois.

Last week, the governor was still urging Rod Blagojevich-appointee Burris to quit to allow the legislature to call a special election to fill the seat held until last fall by Barack Obama.

But when black community leaders rallied for the nation's only African-American U.S. senator and reminded Democrats that blacks make up nearly 40 percent of their party's primary vote. The resignation callers appeared to resign themselves that Burris was in place at least until the 2010 election.

"He's got a lot of work to do. There will ultimately be an election for the U.S. Senate seat," said Sen. Dick Durbin.

Also on Monday, state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias announced himself a likely candidate for Burris' job. The 32-year-old Barack Obama basketball buddy is not convinced that Burris will run for a full term in 2010.

"I just think the position he's been put in by Governor Blagojevich is very difficult," said Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

But we're told that Burris won't have to hear the governor and the state's other u.s. Senator calling for his resignation anymore. At least, that's what we're told the deal is until further notice.

"Roland isn't going any place. We may as well forget about this and deal with those issues that have to be dealt with," said Alderman Ed Smith, 21st Ward.

Roland Burris still faces inquiries by the Senate Ethics Committee and the Sangamon County state's attorney. If either of those investigations determine he lied about contacts with Blagojevich administration officials, then the resignation demands might resume.

For the moment, the fire is out. There is a shaky peace in the democratic valley.


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