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It's not exactly a stop-the-presses piece of news, but the Sun-Times is reporting that Senator Roland Burris will not run for reelection—whoops, make that election—next year.
For months—pretty much ever since he was appointed to his seat by Rod Blagojevich—Burris and his adviser/spokeswoman Delmarie Cobb have been declining to say whether he would get into the 2010 race. But he hadn't raised any money, and his prospects were considered dim, regardless of who else decided to jump in.
Yesterday attorney general Lisa Madigan said she wants to stick with her current gig, which prompted what is officially known in the political world as a clusterfuck. Various politicians of both parties are scrambling to get campaigns together for Senate, governor, and other offices up and down the ballot.
But the Senate seat is a prized possession for both parties well beyond Illinois. Since Al Franken was seated earlier this week, Senate Democrats have reached the magic filibuster-proof number of 60. As much as everyone loves Lisa Madigan, she was attractive to national Democratic leaders because they assumed—rightly, in my view—that with a little cash she could wallop anyone who ran against her.
The same is not true for the other announced or potential contestants, including state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Merchandise Mart exec and RFK son Chris Kennedy, or Chicago Urban League president Cheryle Jackson. Conservative Republicans may find congressman Mark Kirk too "liberal", but if he runs he's going to be a strong statewide candidate. The Democrats will be desperate to recruit some heavier hitters to run against him.
Somebody else will decide to jump in before this thing settles. And that was true even before Burris decided not to finish his political career by losing another election.