Can he manage to lose this one too? | Bleader

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Can he manage to lose this one too?

Posted By on 12.30.08 at 01:48 PM

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Once upon a time, after he moved from a top spot in Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH into Democratic politics, Roland Burris was considered a smart, pragmatic, progressive politician--one who could win with support from African-Americans, Chicago "reformers," and a handful of downstate voters he'd won over with reminders that he was originally from their part of Illinois. Thirty years ago he broke a barrier as the first African-American to hold statewide office in Illinois, and in 1990 he became just the second in the country to become a state attorney general.

But over the last, oh, decade and a half, he's shown a mastery of losing elections, including several in which he appeared to be the favorite until the final days of the campaign. Within state political circles he's developed a reputation for being desperate to get back into office--any office.

Here's the timeline of his electoral career: 

YEAR

OFFICE

ELECTION

OPPONENTS

RESULT

1976

Illinois comptroller

primary

Michael Bakalis

Lost

1978

Illinois comptroller

primary

Richard Luft

Won

1978

Illinois comptroller

general

John Castle

Won

1982

Illinois comptroller

primary

none

Won

1982

Illinois comptroller

general

Cal Skinner Jr.

Won

1984

U.S. Senate

primary

Paul Simon

Lost

1986

Illinois comptroller

primary

Donald Clark

Won

1986

Illinois comptroller

general

Adeline Jay Geo-Karis

Won

1990

Illinois attorney general

primary

none

Won

1990

Illinois attorney general

general

Jim Ryan

Won

1994

Illinois governor

primary

Dawn Clark Netsch, Richard Phelan

Lost

1995

Chicago mayor

general

Richard M. Daley

Lost

1998

Illinois governor

primary

Glenn Poshard, John Schmidt

Lost

2002

Illinois governor

primary

Rod Blagojevich, Paul Vallas

Lost

Now, of course, it sounds like Governor Rod Blagojevich, always true to his word, is about to pluck Burris from his lucrative consulting and law gigs and name him to fill Barack Obama's empty U.S. Senate seat.  

That doesn't mean Burris, 71, will end up holding public office again. If, as they've stated repeatedly, Senate leaders refuse to seat anybody stained with the "impropriety" of Blago, Burris may end up pulling off yet another impressive feat--losing a bid for an office after he was appointed to it.

UPDATE: Burris also ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature in 1968. 

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