Burris settling into new office

January 17, 2009 8:24:18 PM PST
ABC7's Andy Shaw was the first reporter to join Senator Roland Burris at his new office. The election of former Senator Barack Obama sparked a series of e events that culminated when disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich gave the seat he had originally tried to sell to Roland Burris, a perennial candidate that was first rejected by the Senate colleagues and then accepted on Thursday-- and he is now undergoing very intense on the job training.

He is the other new kid in town, the one that is not the president-elect, and he is starting from scratch in Washington, D.C. to learn how to be a U.S. senator.

Burris is beginning to hire a Senate staff of 50 people to run a big office in Washington and three constituent offices back in Illinois, and he has to learn about the rules, the procedures and the issues that his Senate colleagues have had months or years or even decades to master.

The Senate manual looks as big as War and Peace. Is it daunting? "Very much so," Burris said.

"It is daunting is, is the understatement of the year," said Fred Lebed, Burris advisor.

Lebed, Barack Obama's office manager when he was the junior senator, is now on board to help Burris get his office together. Senator Dick Durbin is sending in people that know the ropes and the head of Mayor Daley's office is heading a crash course on the big issues.

Burris says he's excited, and already working on issues that matter to the state and the city. He'll be an important partner along with Durbin and the rest of the delegation.

"We want to make him a success, it is important for Illinois and the country that he be successful, and anything we can do to help we will," said Frank Kruesi, City of Chicago , lobbyist.

The Burris appointment by scandal-scarred Rod Blagojevich was controversial and extremely unpopular among a a majority of Illinois voters, but Saturday in Washington, the veteran politician lawyer and lobbyist is saying, Please give me a chance.

"Under no circumstances did I have anything to do with the conditions of the governor," Burris said. "And of course, some of the detractors are saying I was serving my own ego...I tried three times to be governor because I wanted to serve the people of Illinois, if I could be senator and serve my state again, that's exactly what I wanted to do."

Roland Burris says he hasn't decided yet whether to run for a full six-year term in 2010, but he has already set up a fundraising website, called support SupportBurris.com. There will be fundraisers held for him in Illinois.