Roll Call reports that Senate Democrat leaders have basically decided that they won’t succeed in getting Roland Burris to resign anytime soon:
“It’s time to get out your remote to change the channel from Entertainment Tonight back to the news,” Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker said. “People are losing their homes. People are losing their jobs, and they are worried about affording college for their kids and health care for their family. And those are the things we’re going to spend time talking about, not the junior Senator from Illinois.”
Durbin told Burris in a private meeting last week that he should consider resigning. Similarly, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) told reporters a week and a half ago that Burris should resign and a special election should be held to fill the seat.
Quinn backed off that statement this week, saying, “Roland has made it crystal clear he won’t resign. Let’s move on.”
Burris also has been buoyed in recent days by support from African-American leaders in Illinois and in Congress who withheld their backing in the immediate aftermath of reports that Burris did not fully reveal his dealings with Blagojevich. The ex-governor appointed Burris after being arrested for allegedly trying to sell the vacant Senate seat of President Barack Obama for political favors and campaign cash.
In the recent past, Republicans were constantly forced to embarrassing questions about Ted Stevens and Larry Craig when they refused to step aside after embarrassing their parties. Now the shoe seems to be on the other foot. And while there is a Senate ethics investigation which could ultimately lead to an expulsion vote, few in the Senate seem to expect that to happen. It’s telling that no Senator mentioned to Roll Call the possibility that he will be expelled down the road; Democrats have apparently decided to give in.
And if Democrats fail to force Burris out, there seems no reason to think he won’t run for re-election. He has refused to rule it out, and he already seems likely to face two primary challengers. Even better for him, both if his likely challengers so far (Alex Giannoulias and Jan Schakowsky) are white; if no African-American runs against him, Burris stands a decent chance of being renominated – based primarily on the strength of the black vote in Illinois.
That’s a long way down the road of course, but now that Burris has weathered the initial storm, he might emerge as a prime target for the GOP in 2010.