In an effort to stay in the Senate seat to which he was appointed by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, U.S. Senator Roland Burris has one thing going for him: Name recognition.
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
It's practically inconceivable that anyone living in his native Illinois – or any of the other 49 states, for that matter – hasn't heard of the embattled junior senator and his troubles. But Burris' time in the spotlight, along with his tumultuous tenure in the Senate, may be a short one. In an interview with the Beltway publication The Hill Thursday, Burris indicated that he won't campaign for election to the seat he now holds if he feels he cannot raise enough money. He said he will make his decision in the next few weeks.
"I'm moving into a phase now where I will be talking to people and assessing the opportunities in terms of my ability to raise the funds and stay here," Burris told The Hill.
As The Hill noted, the scandal-plagued senator's fundraising has been anemic. Burris only managed to cobble together $845 in the first quarter of 2009. But Burris said that if he entered the race, he didn't believe that raising money would be a problem.
"I have not sought to be a candidate. I have sought to be a senator," Burris told The Hill. "I think I can be a very good candidate once I become understanding and be a good senator."
Burris has faced intense criticism about the circumstances surrounding his appointment to fill President Barack Obama's Senate seat on the part of Blagojevich, who was eventually impeached. Initially, the senator told an Illinois house committee that he had not been in contact with Blagojevich's advisers or offered anything in return for his appointment. Burris later amended his statements, admitting that he had spoken to the governor's staff and had even been approached for fundraising help.
If Burris throws his hat in the race, he will have to make up a lot of lost ground. A recent survey by Public Policy Polling showed Burris trailing Republican Congressman Mark Kirk 59-19 percent in a hypothetical matchup. It's also likely that Burris would face a fierce primary challenge. Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has announced he is running for Burris' seat, and speculation is mounting that both Congressman Jan Schakowsky and Chris Kennedy, the son of Robert Kennedy, may also join the race.