Defiant Blagojevich announces replacement for Obama's Senate seat
His pick, former Illinois attorney general Burris, is well-regarded but lost his last four campaigns.
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In naming Roland Burris, a longtime African-American politician in Illinois who has served as the state’s comptroller and attorney general in the past, Governor Blagojevich acted within his legal rights, as the sitting governor. But the appointment ran counter to the wishes of the Illinois legislature, all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and the governor’s own previously stated intentions.
“Please don’t allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man,” Blagojevich stated in a press conference, referring to the criminal charges that claim that, among other things, he tried to “sell” the Senate appointment. Blagojevich defended his action by saying that he had a legal obligation to make the appointment.
Reactions to news of the appointment were swift and generally negative.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White declared that he won’t accept any paperwork that Blagojevich files to name a new senator because of “the current cloud of controversy surrounding the governor.” The Illinois legislature has initiated impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich.
Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who is poised to take over as governor if Blagojevich is impeached, held his own news conference shortly after the governor made his announcement, declaring that “the people of Illinois have come to the conclusion that [Blagojevich] is not fit to be governor, and therefore he is not fit to make any appointment to the United States Senate.”
Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s office issued a statement reaffirming the unanimous decision by the Senate Democratic Caucus not to seat a senator named by Blagojevich, declaring that “it is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety.”