CHICAGO – A defiant Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday appointed a former state attorney general to Barack Obama's former Senate seat, a suprise move that put his opponents in the uncomfortable position of trying to block a veteran political trailblazer from becoming the Senate's only black member. Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris injected race into the drama surrounding the embattled governor, who sought to make the issue more about the man he selected rather than the seat he's accused of trying to sell.
"Please don't allow the allegations against me to taint a good an honest man," the governor said, turning to the smiling 71-year-old standing by his side.
Burris said he discussed the appointment with Blagojevich Sunday night. "I was asked if he would appoint me, would I accept, and the answer is yes," Burris said.
Burris said he has no connection to the charges against Blagojevich, who was arrested earlier this month on charges that he tried to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.
And the appointment led to this:
WASHINGTON – A House Democrat is daring Senate leaders to block a black man from taking President-elect Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.
Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois points out that Roland Burris would be the only black man in a chamber populated overwhelmingly by white senators.
Senate Democratic leaders earlier Tuesday added an explicit note of support for Burris personally, but not for his appointment by the embattled governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. The leaders said the Democratic caucus would refuse to seat Burris if Blagojevich appoints him, and called their stance a reflection of the scandal-tainted governor.