In crazy Illinois, this makes sense

In crazy Illinois, this makes sense

Posted by JP on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 23:46

Today I watched a governor out on bail after being arrested for allegedly trying to sell off a U.S. Senate seat name a former statewide elected official turned tobacco, casino and mortgage broker lobbyist to serve out President-elect Barack Obama (D-hope and change)'s Senate term only to turn on CNN and learn that comedian Kathy Griffin's brother is a lawyer with the Illinois attorney general's office.

The governor, who everyone from Obama on down has said should quit, named former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to serve the final two years of Obama's term, saying he had no choice because lawmakers failed to take his appointment power away and give it to voters, something he would have supported had they done it.

Burris was the first black candidate elected to statewide office in 1978 when he won the comptroller's race. He was twice re-elected and then won the attorney general's post in 1990. He's been out of office, though repeatedly tried to get back in, since 1995. He's a registered lobbyist whose clients have included the Ho Chunk Nation, which tried but failed to win approval of a tribal casino in Hoffman Estates, and a group of smaller, discount cigarette makers -- consider them little tobacco. He also lobbied for the interests of mortgage brokers, a cable giant and funeral directors.

But Congressman Bobby Rush says anyone who casts a critical eye on Burris, who's donated more than $20,000 to Blagojevich personally or through law firms, is committing a political lynching. Personally, I don't think anyone should ever speak poorly of a fellow Saluki, but we've all got jobs to do.

To round out discussions, Burris was elected as an Obama delegate this year but his former spokeswoman is a Hillary Clinton supporter who claimed the president of the Illinois Senate -- Obama's political mentor -- called her an "Uncle Tom" at this year's Democratic National Convention for her reluctance to join Obama's camp.

Keep in mind that one of the main reasons we have Gov. Blagojevich is because of Roland Burris. Burris stayed in the 2002 Democratic primary creating a three-way race with Blagojevich and Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas. Burris' did decently in Chicago. Vallas stomped Blago in the collar counties and suburban Cook. But Blagojevich won -- believe it or not -- by carrying downstate, particularly the Metro East suburban St. Louis region home to Blagojevich's No. 1 ally state Rep. Jay Hoffman.
No Burris spoiler in Chicago for Vallas could have meant different results. But hey, that's why they have elections.

Lost in all of this is that the governor first had his 2 p.m. announcement slated for the 2nd floor of the Thompson Center in Chicago. Then he moved it to the "blue room" news conference location about 13 floors up.

I'm told doing so bumped out Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn's news conference, he of the last Sunday national news show prediction that the governor will be out by Feb. 12, which conveniently clears the way for the former political establishment pariah -- Quinn, not Blagojevich -- to become governor.

Just wondering, does anyone remember all those Democratic hugs back in Denver?

And is 2008 over yet? I can't take much more of this.

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