Burris' Lonely Position

If he is appointed to fill President-elect Obama's vacant Senate seat this afternoon, Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris will have embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich to thank. Yet few others seem willing to stand by the potential pick.

As news broke that the governor was prepared to appoint Burris at a Chicago press conference this afternoon various political powerhouses released statements condemning Blagojevich's decision to appoint anyone during his criminal proceedings. The Senate Democratic Leadership Committtee said "under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus." While CBS News Senior Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield notes that Senate Democrats may not hold all the power, Burris would be in a lonely place if confirmed.

An Obama spokesman told CBS News that they have no immediate plans to comment on the decision but stressed that the President-elect had previously called for the Blagojevich to resign before making an appointment.

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) led the Senate Democratic Caucus in signing a letter earlier this month to Governor Blagojevich which requested he refrain from making an appointment and warned, "that should you decide to ignore the request of the Senate Democratic Caucus and make an appointment we would be forced to exercise our Constitutional authority under Article I, Section 5, to determine whether such a person should be seated." This letter was included in this afternoon's statement that Blagojevich's appointee would not be welcomed to the Democratic caucus.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna said, "Illinois Republicans were the first to demand Rod Blagojevich have nothing to do with appointing our next United States Senator. Because they went back on their word and refused to strip Blagojevich of his appointment power and pass a special election, Illinois Democrats have created yet another constitutional crisis for Illinois," in a statement to reporters.

Even before the pending appointment, many wondered who on earth would want to fill the vacant senate seat the governor was accused of trying to sell to the highest bidder. Now, as more and more parties attempt to distance themselves from the governor and his pick, one can't help but wonder: Why would Burris even want this appointment?
  • Michelle Levi

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