Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama’s senate seat

ronald burris senate seat

On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich named a prominent African-American statesman to fill Barack Obama’s senate seat.

The governor defied pressure to pick Roland Burris, the state’s former attorney general.

Mr. Blagojevich is the subject of a criminal inquiry and has been charged with attempting to “sell” Mr Obama’s now-vacant seat to the highest bidder.

“Please don’t allow the allegations against me to taint a good and honest man,” the governor said, turning to the smiling 71-year-old standing by his side.

“This is about Roland Burris as a U.S. senator, not about the governor who made the appointment.”

In a statement Tuesday, Senate Democrats vowed not to seat the former Illinois attorney general, saying he would “serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety.”

Burris does not have to be formally approved by the Senate.

But according to associate Senate Historian Don Ritchie, if there is a question about the appointment, the Senate could disallow the appointment and immediately vacate the seat or vote to seat the senator pending an investigation by the Rules Committee or some other body.

Mr Burris, 71, became the first African-American to be elected to statewide office in Illinois when he won the 1978 election to be state comptroller.

He was state attorney general from 1991 to 1995 and made unsuccessful bids for the US Senate in 1984.

He lost campaigns for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1994, 1998 and 2002 — the last time losing to Blagojevich. In 1995, he was badly beaten when challenging Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

Image: AFP