Monday, January 12, 2009

It's Senator Burris!

Burris triumphs but says he's humbled

Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats have folded their weak hand and cleared the way for Roland Burris to be sworn in as the junior Senator from Illinois later this week.

The only real question surrounding this strange episode is why it took them so painfully long to to accept the inevitable.

Senate Republicans are not going to cause Burris any trouble. Indeed, they're happy! Senator John Cornyn, Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has already marked the 2010 Illinois Senate contest, when Burris will presumably run for a full term, as a "priority." Fools they would be not to do so, since whatever Burris's assets, he can readily be assailed for accepting the appointment from the deeply tainted Governor Rod Blagojevich, who likely will have been removed from office and either on trial or already convicted as that campaign unfolds.

Still, Burris's combination of toughness and low-key civility over the past couple of weeks signal that he might turn out to be a harder man to beat than he's been credit for in the past. The missing pieces of the picture are whether one or more other Democrats will challenge Burris in a primary and who the GOP might get to run the race. A primary could prove divisive and damaging and give a clear opening to a well-liked moderate like Rep. Mark Kirk to win for the Republicans.

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