Burris won't rule out run for mayor

November 30, 2010 8:30:19 PM PST
After serving nearly two years in Washington, Roland Burris is back home and once again a private citizen. But for how long?

His was among the most controversial Senate appointments in modern U.S. history.

Burris still insists he was serving the people of Illinois and not his own self-interest when he accepted Rod Blagojevich's invitation to represent the state in the U.S. Senate.

Tuesday, Burris talked to ABC7's Ben Bradley. He shared new exclusive details about his path to the Senate and his desire to once again hold office.

He remembers it like it was yesterday.

The crush of cameras. The national spotlight. Twenty-three months ago, Roland Burris marched on the Capitol demanding the Senate accept his appointment from Rod Blagojevich. Tuesday, he conceded the made-for-TV-moment was orchestrated.

"My lawyers had told me that in order for us to have a case to challenge the denial of the seat, I had to be refused," said Burris. "That's the only reason I went up to the Senate to try to get seated."

It worked.

Less than two weeks later Roland Burris was sworn in as the junior senator from Illinois. He was a reliable Democratic vote on important issues like the healthcare bill.

But the media and some of his colleagues never forgot the taint of being tapped by an indicted governor. Burris believed he could get past it, and now he says he was preparing to run for a full term of his own.

"I was making calls to try to pay off my legal bills so that I could start raising money to run, and that's when the Sun-Times said they had me on tape."

That tape was an FBI wiretap in which Rod Blagojevich's brother -- and chief fundraiser -- was heard asking Burris for campaign donations.

Burris says he never agreed to raise the money because it would have looked like he was buying a seat in Congress. Still, the Senate Ethics Committee slapped him with a mild rebuke, saying his actions reflected poorly on the chamber.

"The Senate Ethics Committee sanctioned me," said Burris. "They had a qualified...which they made up because they couldn't find anything else."

Now, back home on Chicago's South Side with a garage full of boxed up political memories, Burris is writing his memoirs and not ruling out running for mayor.

"I've always said there's no one better qualified than me to be mayor," he said.

Burris's supporters have filed petition signatures to get him on the mayoral ballot. The former senator is waiting to see if those signatures are deemed valid before deciding whether he'll run.

What's clear, is at 73 years old, Roland Burris hasn't lost his love for the political arena.


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