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Politics

UPDATE (1:20 PM): The Capitol Fax Blog has a couple of additional details. Firstly, they’re reporting that Illinois’ Secretary of State Jesse White will refuse to certify the appointment. I’m not sure what, if any, constitutional authority White has to do that.

Secondly, although Burris has criticized Blagojevich in recent weeks, he’s also contributed $11K to his campaign fund, and his consulting firm has done a lot of business with the state during Blago’s term. Neither of those things are damning in and of themselves, of course, but they give the Republicans some ammunition.

One of Reid’s problems, by the way, is that it seems plausible that some Republicans would vote against expulsion, perhaps by suggesting that to expel Burris would be an abuse of their Constitutional authority. Their real motivation, of course, might be to give the Blagojevich story legs heading into 2010.

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12:58 PM: What’s more shocking? That a fairly credible candidate actually decided to accept Rod Blagojevich’s appointment? Or that Harry Reid is actually showing some spine?

The Times:

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois will name Roland Burris, a former state attorney general, to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the United States Senate, someone with knowledge of the governor’s plans confirmed on Tuesday.

Mr. Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges including allegations that he tried to sell Mr. Obama’s former senate seat for a high-paying job or money, had not been expected to try to fill the seat. [...]

Mr. Burris, 71 and a Democrat, is a longtime political player in this state, who has run for governor before, including mounting a primary challenge against Mr. Blagojevich. Mr. Obama backed him over Mr. Blagojevich in that race.

But, says Ben Smith:

The Senate will not seat Roland Burris if Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich attempts to appoint him, a Democratic leadership aide said.

Majority Leader Harry Reid views Burris as “unacceptable,” the aide said.

This is going to be … awkward. As we explained before, it’s not at all clear that the Senate has the constitutional authority to refuse to seat an appointed senator. Instead, they might have to seat Burris and then immediately expel him. And I’m not sure that expulsion, which requires a two-thirds majority, is any kind of slam dunk. Burris has a reputation for being above-board, was the first African-American ever to be elected (to statewide office) in Illinois, and actually ran against Blagojevich in 2002. He also has the advantage of not actually having held office in Illinois since 1995, which may explain why he’s clean. So the third surprise here is that Blago made a fairly astute choice. If he wanted to pick someone who maximized his chances of having the appointment succeed, Burris would be close to the top of that list.

The Senate Democrats may have let this situation get away from them when they got greedy and pulled back from the promise of a special election.

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