Rep. Bobby Rush backs Blago Senate pick: “Don’t lynch the appointee”

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Blago with Roland Burris (center) and Rep. Bobby Rush (right)

At today’s presser, the Blagovernor announced his choice of former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat, and then Rep. Bobby Rush gave Burris a big thumbs up.

The Rush endorsement was, I think, the most important news.  Rush (the guy to whom Obama lost a House race a while back) represents a big chunk of Chicago’s African-American population.  In a direct appeal to allow the appointment to go forward, so that the Senate will have at least one Black member, Rush said: “I would ask you not to hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer. Separate, if you will, the appointee from the appointer. Roland Burris is worthy.” Rush promised to push acceptance of Burris in the Congressional Black Caucus and the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Senate Democratic Majority issued this statement: “Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.” Barack Obama quickly agreed that the Senate Democrats “cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat.”

That’s all well and good, but the Senate’s unwillingness to make it absolutely clear in advance that no one appointed by Blago would be seated, period, left the Blagovernor this opening to name a guy it might become touchy to refuse. In any case, if the Senate does refuse to seat Burris, he and can go to court and stands a fair chance of winning. A protracted battle would leave one half of Illinois’ Senate representation in limbo for at least many months.

The Illinois Secretary of State also jumped into the fray, saying he would not “co-sign” the certification of Burris’s appointment. It’s not clear what the effect of this might be except to give the Senate a hook to hang their refusal on and launch another lawsuit.

Not surprisingly, Lt. Governor Pat Quinn renewed his call for Blago’s impeachment, but the impeachment row may yet turn out to be a hard one to hoe.

Blago, Burris and Rush all made a point of asking people to judge Burris on his own merits, separately from their opinions about Blagojevich, and by all accounts, Burris, 71, has had a long career in public service free of controversy. This, combined with Rush’s appeal to seat a man who would be the one and only African-American among 100 Senators, could prove to be an argument that carries weight with millions of African-Americans in Illinois. If so, Blagojevich might win himself some support from a key constituency and throw another obstacle in the way of the move to impeach him.

We’ll soon find out. In any case, the Illinois Legislature should be ashamed of its failure to pass a bill stripping Blago of his appointment power when it had the chance.

(Visit me at The Purple Center)

  • J. Harden

    Sensitivity Alert!! Code Red! Code Red!

    Does anyone think it is more than a bit inappropriate for Rush to use the ole’ “hang’em/lynch’em” language. No one is supposing that the Senate would not seat Burris because of his race and to illicite such historically charged imagery seems totally out of place, inappropriate and a naked race play.

    The silence is deafening coming out the guilty-ridden chambers of Starbucks. No magic touch for this poor guy.

  • D. Jones

    Gov. Blagojevich is the poster child for everything that is wrong with American politics. Although I am a firm believer in innocent until proven guilty, the evidence put forth so far shows Blagojevich to be an arrogant abuser of his constituency. This latest move by Blagojevich is no surprise as he is trying to cover his flank in a battle which was certainly lost before. The appointment of Burris is little else for Blagojevich than a smoke screen, albeit an intelligent one. Having Bobby Rush on hand to present the appointee to America with a racial ultimatum was the icing on the cake.
    On the other side of the coin: Blagojevich is legally within his rights as a standing “Head of State” to appoint Attorney General Roland Burris. Actually, it is the Governor’s duty to make sure that Illinois is represented in the Senate. President Elect Obama made a serious mistake by agreeing with the Senate that the appointment would not be confirmed. This is an inherent American problem of lumping everything together under one label. It is too bad that Barack Obama has already succumbed to this train of thought.
    A good sifting is what should occur now. Here is the way it should roll from here in a perfect world:

    1. Roland Burris should be confirmed on the merits of his outstanding record of public service.

    2. Impeachment proceedings against Governor Blagojevich should be initiated ASAP.

    3. If so warranted by discovery during the impeachment proceedings, criminal charges against Governor Blagojevich should be filed. If an indictment is brought against Blagojevich, he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    4. Bobby Rush should be held accountable for his inciting remarks and made to explain his reasons for the choice in vocabulary.

  • Jeremy from Oregon

    J. Harden, I agree with you. This comment is entirely inappropriate. Politics are not high theater. This comment is so out of context it manages to insult the tragedy in which it invokes. I suggest Rush hire a speech writer and stick to Que Cards for now on. Idiot!

  • hazeleyes

    I am remembering The Old Mayor Hizzoner’s friend Paddy Bauler’s infamous quote: CHICAGO AIN’T READY FOR REFORM!

    And Chicago (and Illinois) still may not be ready.

    A few weeks ago I heard someone on radio mention that Obama got the US senate seat because Chicago pols wanted him out of the state instead of in the Illinois governorship — they didn’t want him playing in their back yard anymore.

    The Blago office-selling flap raises interesting questions.

    Let’s all watch to see if any dots appear between ethics changes that Blago wanted and the US senate seat ‘scandal’.

    Chicago has seen much worse than the sale of political office, and in fact speaking of sale of political offices, if local pols are so offended about the sale of a senate seat, where were they when Mayor Daley held back Cook County’s vote talley the night Cook County elected Jack Kennedy? And which judge promised Joe Kennedy his kid would be elected by Chicago?

    This paragraph from the ethics change story is something that for sure would set Chicago machine policians’ hair on fire:

    “Blagojevich last month used his amendatory veto power to expand the contractor donation ban to lawmakers and all state officeholders. He also tried to change how pay raises would be voted on, bar lawmakers from holding most other government jobs and require them to more fully disclose lobbying work”

    With lawmakers and state office-holders’ ‘donations’ from contractors, self-voted pay raises, and other sources of off-the-books income in jeopardy, you better believe that the whole state legislature, not to mention every Chicago machine politician past, present, and future would want Blago gone.

    From the ‘reform’ story: “Let’s go ahead and give the people of the state of Illinois what they want and what they deserve,” Fritchey said

    Oh yeah. And he was using the one-finger salute to let his audience know exactly what he meant.

    Cynical? Yes, but I’ve been living in and near Chicago since Hizzoner was king…er, I mean Mayor.


    “Is Illinois ready for ethics?

    The House undid in about two minutes the sweeping ethics reform rewrite Blagojevich spent two months putting together.

    The House voted 110-3 for the original version of House Bill 824 that lawmakers passed in May. That version would bar people with state contracts worth $50,000 or more from making political donations to state officeholders overseeing the contracts.

    Blagojevich also issued an executive order effective Jan. 1 barring people with high-dollar contracts with agencies under his control from giving donations to any state officeholders or lawmakers.

    Blagojevich last month used his amendatory veto power to expand the contractor donation ban to lawmakers and all state officeholders. He also tried to change how pay raises would be voted on, bar lawmakers from holding most other government jobs and require them to more fully disclose lobbying work.

    Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago, said lawmakers should consider the changes in separate bills that he filed Wednesday, not in a take-it-or-leave-it vote.

    “Let’s go ahead and give the people of the state of Illinois what they want and what they deserve,” Fritchey said.

    The vote came just hours after Blagojevich had urged lawmakers not to override his changes because he fears they will be stalled if they’re put into separate bills.

    If the measure isn’t voted on in the Senate within 15 days, the entire bill and the changes die.”