Illinois: Burris Gets First Senate Primary Opponent

Posted March 2, 2009 at 6:30pm

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) announced Monday that he is forming an exploratory committee to pursue a 2010 Senate bid. The move would set up a contested race for embattled Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), should he decide to run for the seat to which he was appointed by now-impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

In a statement from his campaign, Giannoulias said he is running for the seat previously held by his “political mentor— — President Barack Obama.

“More than ever, we need a Senator who can deliver on the change that President Obama has promised our nation,— he said.

Burris was appointed to the Senate by Blagojevich, who was ousted from office last month amid allegations that he tried to sell his Senate appointment to the highest bidder.

It was later revealed in a Feb. 5 affidavit that Burris had contact with Blagojevich’s brother about fundraising for the then governor prior to his appointment — a fact that was omitted from Burris’ testimony before the state Legislature during Blagojevich’s impeachment proceedings.

Several Democrats, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), have asked Burris to consider resigning, but he has indicated he is not inclined to do so. Burris has set up an official Web site for his 2010 campaign, even though he has said he has yet to make up his mind about running.

Other Democrats have also talked about running for Senate in either a special election or in 2010, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D).

Republicans also plan to target the seat in 2010 or in a special election if Burris resigns. GOP Reps. Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam are considering bids for the seat, although Kirk is viewed as Republicans’ top choice.