Strong show of support for Roland Burris

January 4, 2009 9:09:03 PM PST
Governor Blagojevich's choice to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate received a strong show of support Sunday night. A rally was held at a South Side church for Roland Burris.

Many U.S. Senate leaders say the Burris appointment is tainted by the governor's legal problems. Blagojevich faces the possibility of impeachment in the coming week.

The Burris appointment issue is a high-stakes showdown that has been infused with racial politics.

Burris plans to fly to the nation's capital Monday afternoon. Senate leaders again said Sunday it was highly unlikely they would seat Burris.

The former attorney general is determined, however, encouraged by a big send-off Sunday night from Chicago congressmen Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and dozens of ministers.

"I'm ready to serve, friends. I'm ready to serve," Burris told the crowd gathered at the church.

Fired up, Burris declared himself the junior senator from Illinois. Once in Washington, his plan is to show up at the Senate chambers on Tuesday to be sworn-in.

Burris says he will be diplomatic and will not create a scene.

"I will go to the place where they scheduled me to go. If they turn me around, then we will proceed to leave and proceed to take whatever action we need to take," he said.

Burris is likely to get a chilly reception in Washington. Senate Democratic leaders, including Illinois' senior Sen. Dick Durbin are adamant about their refusal to seat Burris. However, Durbin and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did leave the door open in statements made Sunday.

Senate Democrats with President-elect Barack Obama's support have said all along they will not seat anyone appointed by Governor Blagojevich.

However, Chicago congressman Bobby Rush is strongly pushing for Burris to become the only African-American senator. Sunday, Rush condemned those who want to reject Burris.

"They made a mistake. They know there are no African-Americans. The Senate is the last bastion of plantation politics in America," Rush said.

As for Burris, he said he hopes by Tuesday morning, Senate leaders will do the right thing.

Monday night, Senator Reid and Senate Minority Leader Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell will meet to come up with a bipartisan solution. McConnell and other Republicans have said a special election is the best answer.

Reid is under fire for a published report that accuses the Senate leader for opposing the appointments of African-American candidates when talking with Governor Blagojevich about the Senate seat. Reid said Sunday that was untrue.