Monday, February 16, 2009

Is Illinois Poised to Get a GOP Senator?

Illinois use to be known as the "Land of Lincoln," but in recent years may be better described as the "Land of Corruption." After a series of governors who spend their retirement years in jail and a new one (Blagojevich) seemingly not far behind, I think many citizens of Illinois are ready for change, especially when we consider how its latest Senator was appointed.

Roland Burris was chosen a US Senator by then Governor Blagojevich after a scandal broke out that the latter was being accused of actually trying to sell Obama's seat. It was concluded that Burris was some how above the scandal following an impeachment committee hearing that the Senate appointee testified. During that hearing he indicated that he had only spoken with Blagojevich Chief of Staff Lon Monk and there was no discussion for "pay to play." However, it appears the Feds may have recorded conversations that indicate that Burris had several other discussions with those connected to Blagojevich. The question is, did such recordings lead to Burris modifying his list of contacts?

USA Today reports that "Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., said Monday that it is "positively not true" that the reason he filed an affidavit revealing new contacts with ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich's associates was because federal authorities had told him conversations had been secretly recorded." Republican legislators are using this modification of this list as grounds for an investigation and GOP leaders around the country are wetting their lips at the prospects of getting that seat on the GOP side. With barely sixty votes and the power of the filibuster, the Democrats can hardly afford losing such an important seat, but Burris is extremely vulnerable.

The next election for Burris is 2010 and with the exception of one short six year term (of Senator Peter Fitzgerald), Illinois has been represented exclusively by Democrats for decades. This is clearly a Democratic state. But how much more can this poor state sustain when it comes to the quality of government? It is poised for a serious house cleaning like Washington, DC saw following Watergate.

Following two years of absorbing the costs and trauma of Barack Obama's "stimulus package" I think many more House and Senate seats will be found off the Democrat's column. 2010 should be an interesting year.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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