[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/30/art.burris1.gi.jpg caption="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.
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