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January 1st, 2009
08:02 PM ET

Mr. Burris goes to Washington...maybe

Roland Burris crashes the Senate party?

Roland Burris crashes the Senate party?

Brianna Keilar | Bio
CNN Congressional Correspondent

Have you every hosted a party only for someone to show up even though you didn't invite them and you didn't want them to attend? Awkward, right? That's how Senate Democratic leaders feel about Roland Burris, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's pick to replace Barack Obama as the junior senator from Illinois. They think it's likely Burris will show up on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the opening day of Congress, what's normally a very uncontroversial day of fuzzy moments akin to the first day of school. And so, says a Democratic aide, they're making contingency plans.

Think of the Senate chamber as the hottest nightclub in town. If Burris tries to enter, the bouncer (or in this case the "doorkeeper") won't let him past the velvet rope, says a Democratic aide. If Burris persists or refuses to leave and causes a scene outside the club, the bouncer calls in reinforcements (Capitol Police officers) and, ultimately, the bouncer-in-chief (also known as the Sergeant at Arms, the only guy who's a big enough deal that he can actually arrest the President of the United States, at the direction of the Senate) steps in.

As if Washington doesn't seem synonymous enough with Illinois these days, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, Terrance Gainer, is a familiar face to Roland Burris. They both served in the Illinois government in the '90s – Gainer as the Director of the Illinois State Police and Burris as Illinois' Attorney General.

Burris says he is planning to come to Capitol Hill but he hasn't committed to exactly when he'll show up. He told The Chicago Tribune that he's, "not going to create a scene in Washington," and "We hope it's negotiated out prior to my going to Washington."

Senate Democratic leaders, according to a Democratic aide, have also considered a more unlikely but "radioactive" scenario: that Blagojevich himself will turn up on Capitol Hill Tuesday and steal the show with what Democrats would consider one of the most unwelcome photo opps in the history of Congress. Unlike Burris, Blagojevich can't be turned away at the door. Since all sitting governors have floor privileges in the Senate he's got an all-access pass. Blagojevich could walk around the Senate chamber and talk with other senators (or at least try to) and there's nothing Senate Democratic leaders could do to stop him.

The Governor's spokesman, Lucio Guerrero, told me his boss knows he is free to roam about the Senate chamber but "the idea of going on Tuesday was first raised by a reporter," not Blagojevich. Guerrero says the governor is not planning on going to Capitol Hill ... at this time.

As for Burris, he won't even get an office, aides tell me, which makes reporters like me wonder if he won't be wandering the halls just like we do.


Filed under: Brianna Keilar • Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Willis, TX

    Open the door and let that man enter!!! He is legal and no one should stand in his way.

    This reminds me of Gov. George Wallace standing in front of the college doors blocking black students!!

    January 2, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  2. Mike O'Brien

    I understand that Governor Rod Blagojevich has the right as still Governor to pick a successor to be the next Senator from the state of Illinois to the United States Senate for two years. However, I don't understand because of Governor Rod Blagojevich problems.., why the people of Illinois do not have a 'special' election in February 2009 to vote/pick who will replace President-elect Barack Obama in the United States Senate. Let the great people of the state of Illinois decide. I have 'nothing' against Roland Burris. I understand that he is a honourable and honest man. However, there must be three or four or more well qualified persons that would also be a great Senator. Let the people.., decide. Then all of this fighting would stop.., maybe ?

    January 2, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  3. Joe the Boxer

    Regardless of the Governor's political "sins", a seat still has to be filled by deadline. Otherwise, Dems will lose some power of votes on the hill. Something the GOP loves to hope for. So let the process take it's course, as the constitution is bigger than any one individual, and our Democracy shouldn't come to a halt ( something the GOP specializes in) over a single person's act.

    January 2, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  4. des

    Another case of a ho-hum politician's ego being bigger than the public's interest. Roland Burris' common sense should have kicked in when Blagovich offered the appointment, and he should have turned it down, as it appeared many other more principaled candidates did. Now he just looks pathetic!

    January 2, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  5. jrq

    I"m with Cindy above in I hope CNN has cameras on Burris Tuesday. This guy seems just like Blagojevich in being a big nerd. Anyone with their resume in a cemetery is creepy. Oh, thanks for that heads up! CNN seems to be the only news media reporting that story.

    January 2, 2009 at 4:41 am |
  6. Bret Harley

    Mr. Burris must have known this would assure him no chance of getting a seat. But maybe he'll get a better posting as a compromise.

    January 2, 2009 at 2:20 am |
  7. Mike

    Burris doesn't belong in Congress, at least not yet. There still should be a special election in Illinois. Only then should whoever it is be allowed and welcome in Congress.

    January 2, 2009 at 1:21 am |
  8. Gary Reiswig

    Blagojevich maybe less than honorable but Burris is a good choice. Harry Reid, mouth in motion brain not in gear. He has made an ass of himself. I think anyone against Burris on legal grounds should keep there opinions to themselves they only look stupid. If the supreme court won't back Burris there's something wrong with the constitution. They need to seat this guy and get on with more important business.

    January 1, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  9. snickerdootle

    I am curious if there is anything anyone can do about Blagojevich picking Burris. Seems like he picked the right candidate to help him get out of this mess. It should be interesting to see where this goes. I personally feel that both men should be removed from their current positions and put in the unemployment line.

    January 1, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  10. Kim

    Why under the circumstances is a Gov. by law allowed to appoint anyone until he's cleared ? How do we change that law and hope the people get an open election process.

    January 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  11. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    Well no matter how this plays out I do believe Mr. Burris should go to Washington. He is an honorable man after all and regardless of what game El Blogo is trying to play he most certainly could have chosen a much more offensive and/or unqualified person to fill this roll. Legally Burris is THE senator from Ill. to replace President-elect Obama. I believe the senate should just calm down and let the man fullfill his role. The absolute MESS that ole G W Bush left us with is number one priority now.

    Let all this stuff about Bolgo make headlines in the Supermarket Tabloids along with Palin's Daughter's out of wedlock pregnancy and the maybe if he feels like it husband to be and the drug abusing mother-in-law ! Let get on with the business of making America great again !

    January 1, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  12. Larry

    Wow! Its been 15 years since Michelle Obama gave up her license to practice law in Illinois, so what was her job at the Chicago Hospital?

    January 1, 2009 at 8:49 pm |
  13. Annie Kate

    Well, other than their plans on how to keep Burris out and their hoping Blagojevich won't show up, does Congress have some plan on how to fill the seat left vacant by Obama? Or does the Illinois Congress have a plan? It would be nice to hear how this issue is going to be resolved and who has the power to resolve it.

    January 1, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  14. KSuzanne San Leandro, Ca.

    This is tragic. I am really sorry that this man that appears to have an honorable background is being used as a pawn in a chess game of a power-gone mad political maniac!

    KSuzanne from San Leandro

    January 1, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  15. DJ

    If no one is questioning the Il. Gov. appointee (Mr. Burris) , why won't the Lt. Gov & Sec. of state(Il)say he is the correct person then everyone can move on?

    January 1, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  16. Cindy

    OK...now this is the time that I hope that the cameras are following Burris at all times! It will be very interesting to see what goes down Tuesday when he shows up where he is obviously not wanted on The Hill. I hope there is lots of drama. Drama is good! LOL Hey...we've gotta have something happening on The Hill since not much else goes on there! LOL

    Cindy...Ga.

    January 1, 2009 at 8:09 pm |
  17. Larry

    Will he be running for potus in 2012?

    January 1, 2009 at 8:08 pm |